Cane (New Edition) by Jean Toomer

By Jean Toomer

“A leap forward in prose and poetical writing. . . . This booklet can be on all readers’ and writers’ desks and of their minds.”—Maya Angelou

First released in 1923, Jean Toomer’s Cane is an cutting edge literary work—part drama, half poetry, half fiction—powerfully evoking black existence within the South. wealthy in imagery, Toomer’s impressionistic, occasionally surrealistic sketches of Southern rural and concrete existence are permeated by way of visions of smoke, sugarcane, nightfall, and fireplace; the northern global is pictured as a harsher truth of asphalt streets. This iconic paintings of yankee literature is released with a brand new afterword by way of Rudolph Byrd of Emory collage and Henry Louis Gates Jr. of Harvard collage, who offer groundbreaking biographical info on Toomer, position his writing in the context of yankee modernism and the Harlem Renaissance, and view his transferring claims approximately his personal race and his pioneering critique of race as a systematic or organic suggestion.

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However, this does not alter the fact that Joyce’s aesthetics and literary works would be simply unimaginable, in all their specificity, without the ingredient of Catholicism. Joyce remained resolutely anti-Catholic in his views, but he may still be called a ‘Catholic Modernist’, as opposed to those cultural Modernists who were not specially influenced by the Catholic Church. This perspective allows us to see that 31 32 MODERNISM AND CHRISTIANITY his agon with Catholicism is a source of creative energy in his work: for instance, in fuelling its parodical vigour.

Nonetheless, as Perl notes, ‘Nietzsche’s passionate attachment to artificial, classical verse-tragedy is [. ] no mere aesthetic preference, and his assault on naturalist prose-drama is simultaneously an attack on an entire culture’ (Perl 1984: 119), namely the ‘bourgeois ethic of modernity [which] assumes that life is to be made as easy and regular as possible, leading the collectivized man from a hygienic birth to an anesthetized death’ (118). Nietzsche would later blame Christian ressentiment for the ascendancy of this ethic.

In a post-war France traumatized by conflict there arose a marked need for a fresh cultural synthesis that could CATHOLIC MODERNISMS: JAMES JOYCE AND DAVID JONES preserve and reinvigorate religious tradition without shunning artistic confrontation with disruptive experience itself. The movement was fuelled by lay writers and artists like the philosopher Jacques Maritain, the painter Georges Rouault, the novelist Georges Bernanos and the musician Charles Tournemire. At its base was a ‘skilful retooling’ (Schloesser 2005: 6) of traditional Catholic ideas such as hylomorphism (Aristotelian interrelation of matter and form), sacramentalism (the capability of created things to act as efficacious signs of the work of a transcendent Creator) and transubstantiation (bread and wine becoming Body and Blood in substance, accidents remaining).

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