Book - 2011
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First published in 1923, Jean Toomer's Cane is an innovative literary work--part drama, part poetry, part fiction--powerfully evoking black life in the South. Rich in imagery, Toomer's impressionistic, sometimes surrealistic sketches of Southern rural and urban life are permeated by visions of smoke, sugarcane, dusk, and fire; the northern world is pictured as a harsher reality of asphalt streets. This iconic work of American literature is published with a new afterword by Rudolph Byrd of Emory University and Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard University, who provide groundbreaking biographical information on Toomer, place his writing within the context of American modernism and the Harlem Renaissance, and examine his shifting claims about his own race and his pioneering critique of race as a scientific or biological concept.

Publisher: New York : Liveright, 2011
Edition: New ed
ISBN: 9780871402103
Characteristics: 245 p. : ill. ; 21 cm
Additional Contributors: Byrd, Rudolph P.
Gates, Henry Louis Jr


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LPL_EliH Jan 02, 2019

A gem of the Harlem Renaissance, Cane defies definition. It looks like a not-uncommon chapbook of poems and short stories, but there's a certain throughline of this work that gives it the weight of a unified narrative--or even a manifesto. Toomer grasps at nearly mystical notions of human life. It's not easy reading by any means, but it's an important, thought provoking read and beautiful in its own way.

May 10, 2017

"'Cane' is generally adjudge the literary masterpiece of the Harlem or 'New Negro' Renaissance, a brief but glittering period during the 1920s. . ."-from the introduction
Published in 1923, "Cane" is the book the Jean Toomer's legacy rests upon. I've heard it called a novel, but its unusual mix of poems and short stories resists classification. Later in life Toomer embraced esoteric mysticism. I'd also recommend the Library of America's anthology of Harlem Renaissance novels.


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