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By Charles R. Larson

Invisible Darkness deals a remarkable interpretation of the tortured lives of the 2 significant novelists of the Harlem Renaissance: Jean Toomer, writer of Cane (1923), and Nella Larsen, writer of Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929). Charles R. Larson examines the typical trust that either writers "disappeared" after the Harlem Renaissance and died in obscurity; he dispels the misperception that they vanished into the white global and lived unproductive and unrewarding lives. In transparent, jargon-free language, Larson demonstrates the opposing perspectives that either writers had approximately their paintings vis-?-vis the incipient black arts circulation; he lines every one writer's bothered youth and describes the unresolved questions of race that haunted Toomer and Larsen all in their lives. Larson follows Toomer during the wreckage of his own lifestyles in addition to the bothered years of his more and more quirky non secular quest until eventually his loss of life in a nursing domestic in 1967. utilizing formerly unpublished letters and records, Larson establishes for the 1st time the main points of Larsen's lifestyles, illustrating that almost each released truth approximately her existence is improper. With an leading edge chronology that breaks the conventions of the conventional biographical shape, Larson narrates what occurred to either of those writers in the course of their meant years of withdrawal. He demonstrates that Nella Larsen by no means particularly gave up her struggle for inventive and private achievement and that Jean Toomer's connection to the Harlem Renaissance—and the black world—is at top a doubtful one. This robust revisionist interpretation of 2 significant writers can have a significant i mpact on African American literary stories.

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Max Eastman hired Claude McKay to be the executive editor of The Liberator. Before he had graduated from college, Countee Cullen had poems accepted by Harper's, Poetry, Century, the American Mercury, the Nation, and the Bookman. Waldo Frank convinced Boni and Liveright to publish Jean Toomer's Cane in 1923. Carl Van Vechten helped any number of black artists, including Nella Larsen, whose first novel he took to Blanch Knopf. All of these black writers and others, such as Rudolph Fisher, Walter White, Jessie Fauset, George Schuyler, Wallace Thurman, and, somewhat later, Zora Neale Hurston, found themselves courted and published by major publishing houses.

Like Walter White, Locke seemed to know every black artist of the time, and he took several of the more talented ones directly under his wing. Those he found most promising he helped financially by introducing them to his rich white patron, Charlotte Osgood Mason. In his introductory essay for The New Negro, Locke stated, "The Negro is being carefully studied, not just talked about and discussed. In arts and letters, instead of being wholly caricatured, he is being seriously portrayed and painted.

The position at Georgia Normal and Industrial Institution, in Sparta, began in October and lasted for only a few weeks, yet Toomer felt the effects for a lifetime. In a letter to Alain Locke, written from Sparta and dated November 8, he expressed his elation at discovering his calling as a teacher. "11 Presumably, he was referring to his status as an educated Northerner and as a city dweller suddenly transported into the country. Written during the immediacy of the situation, the letter to Locke expresses the duality of so many events of Toomer's life: the excitement of the moment, yet also the sense of foreboding.

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