African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the by A. Kent

By A. Kent

This publication examines literature by means of African, local, and Jewish American novelists initially of the 20 th century, a interval of radical dislocation from homelands for those 3 ethnic teams in addition to the interval while such voices demonstrated themselves as significant figures within the American literary canon.

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Extra resources for African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the Reshaping of Modernism

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The very form of the novel, with its focus on an individual protagonist rather than a “type,” denies the anthropological effort to generalize about an entire culture. Novelists inevitably rely on their own experiences in writing fiction; indeed each of the novels examined here shares connections with its author’s life. But in choosing to write a novel, each of these writers implicitly, and at times explicitly, makes a claim that the work is fiction, not fact, that it is individual, INTRODUCTION 23 not representative.

Any hope for harmony seems dashed. 22 In Marrow, Chesnutt draws upon and manipulates literary conventions of the American romance novel, analogous to his manipulation of the “plantation tradition” in The Conjure Woman, in which Chesnutt deploys stereotypes against themselves (Werner). Marrow, written in the tradition of American realism and based on actual historical events, also includes a melodramatic family saga, what Susan Gillman calls an “American race melodrama,” to structure the bulk of its plot.

These dandies dress like Euro-Americans in tuxedos, spectacles, and evening gowns, yet they look absurd with their over-emphasized lips, gaping mouths, and bulging eyes, the very elements that make them “look alike” yet not like Euro-Americans. The image serves to ridicule African Americans by denying their ability to imitate Euro-American culture and suggests that they can never be like other Americans. The emphasis on intraracial similarity depends upon the construction of interracial difference.

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Categories: Modernism