Cane (Norton Critical Edition - 2nd edition) / Edition 2

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Overview

A masterpiece of the Harlem Renaissance and a canonical work in both the American and the African American literary traditions, Cane is now available in a revised and expanded Norton Critical Edition.
Originally published in 1923, Jean Toomer’s Cane remains an innovative literary work—part drama, party poetry, part fiction. This revised Norton Critical Edition builds upon the First Edition (1988), which was edited by the late Darwin T. Turner, a pioneering scholar in the field of African American studies. The Second Edition begins with the editors’ introduction, a major work of scholarship that places Toomer within the context of American Modernism and the Harlem Renaissance. The introduction provides groundbreaking biographical information on Toomer and examines his complex, contradictory racial position as well as his own pioneering views on race. Illustrative materials include government documents containing contradictory information on Toomer’s race, several photographs of Toomer, and a map of Sparta, Georgia—the inspiration for the first and third parts of Cane. The edition reprints the 1923 foreword to Cane by Toomer’s friend Waldo Frank, which helped introduce Toomer to a small but influential readership. Revised and expanded explanatory annotations are also included.
“Backgrounds and Sources” collects a wealth of autobiographical writing that illuminates important phases in Jean Toomer’s intellectual life, including a central chapter from The Wayward and the Seeking and Toomer’s essay on teaching the philosophy of Russian psychologist and mystic Georges I. Gurdjieff, “Why I Entered the Gurdjieff Work.” The volume also reprints thirty of Toomer’s letters from 1919–30, the height of his literary career, to correspondents including Waldo Frank, Sherwood Anderson, Claude McKay, Horace Liveright, Georgia O’Keeffe, and James Weldon Johnson.
An unusually rich “Criticism” section demonstrates deep and abiding interest in Cane. Five contemporary reviews—including those by Robert Littell and W. E. B. Du Bois and Alain Locke—suggest its initial reception. From the wealth of scholarly commentary on Cane, the editors have chosen twenty-one major interpretations spanning eight decades including those by Langston Hughes, Robert Bone, Darwin T. Turner, Charles T. Davis, Alice Walker, Gayl Jones, Barbara Foley, Mark Whalan, and Nellie Y. McKay.
A Chronology, new to the Second Edition, and an updated Selected Bibliography are also included.

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Editorial Reviews

Felicia R. Lee
… Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard scholar, and Rudolph P. Byrd, a professor at Emory University, say their research for a new edition of Cane documents that Toomer was “a Negro who decided to pass for white.” They lob this intellectual grenade in their introduction to the book, which W. W. Norton & Company is to publish next month. Their judgment is based on “an analysis of archival evidence previously overlooked by other scholars,” Mr. Byrd and Mr. Gates write, including Toomer’s draft registrations and his and his family’s census records, which they consider alongside his writings and public statements.

… The 472-page Norton volume includes the first edition of Cane, Toomer’s letters, essays, his autobiographical writing and more than 20 interpretive essays about Toomer and the book. It is intended to follow up the first Norton critical edition, published in 1988, and to take Toomer scholarship into the 21st century.
—The New York Times

Sacred Life

Cane is Jean Toomer&#39s acclaimed exploration of the American racial temperament of the 1920s. Using his own life as a model, Toomer explores the issues of race and identity that simmer just below the fragile American social veneer. Organized in three sections, these stories and vignettes are also interspersed with poetry. Toomer&#39s brilliant interweaving of black folk culture within themes of miscegenation, black sexuality, and racial identity and conflict turned this novel into a literary high point.

Toomer&#39s book represented and served to introduce the now self-aware and emergent "new" Negro. In fact, the author himself was embraced by the white literary avant-garde as a modernist of the first order. While initially a commercial failure, Cane is now considered a twentieth-century masterpiece.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393931686
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/6/2011
  • Series: Norton Critical Editions Series
  • Edition description: Second Edition
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 472
  • Sales rank: 254,422
  • Product dimensions: 5.10 (w) x 8.30 (h) x 1.20 (d)

Meet the Author

Jean Toomer (1894–1967)was born in Washington, D.C., the son of educated blacks of Creole stock. Literature was his first love and he regularly contributed avant garde poetry and short stories to such magazines as Dial, Broom, Secession, Double Dealer, and Little Review. After a literary apprenticeship in New York, Toomer taught school in rural Georgia. His experiences there led to the writing of Cane.

Rudolph P. Byrd (Ph.D. Yale University) is the Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies in the Graduate Institute of the Liberal Arts and the Department of African American Studies and the founding director of the James Weldon Johnson Institute for Advanced Interdisciplinary Studies at Emory University. He is the author and editor of ten books, including Jean Toomer’s Years with Gurdjieff; Essentials by Jean Toomer with Charles Johnson; Charles Johnson’s Novels: Writing the American Palimpsest; The Essential Writings of James Weldon Johnson; and with Alice Walker The World Has Changed: Conversations with Alice Walker. Among Professor Byrd’s awards and fellowships are an Andrew W. Mellon Fellowship at Harvard University; Visiting Scholar at the Bellagio Study and Conference Center; and the Thomas Jefferson Award from Emory University. He is a founding officer of the Alice Walker Literary Society.

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. (Ph.D.Cambridge), is Alphonse Fletcher University Professor and Director of the W. E. B. Du Bois Institute for African and American Research, Harvard University. He is the author of Life Upon These Shores: Looking at African American History, 1513–2008; Black in Latin America; Tradition and the Black Atlantic: Critical Theory in the African Diaspora; Faces of America; Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the Racial Self; The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of Afro-American Criticism; Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars; Colored People: A Memoir; The Future of Race with Cornel West; Wonders of the African World; Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Man; and The Trials of Phillis Wheatley. His is also the writer, producer, and narrator of PBS documentaries Finding Your Roots; Black in Latin America; Faces of America; African American Lives 1 and 2; Looking for Lincoln; America Beyond the Color Line; and Wonders of the African World. He is the editor of African American National Biography with Evelyn Brooks Higginbotham, and The Dictionary of African Biography with Anthony Appiah; Encyclopedia Africana with Anthony Appiah; and The Bondwoman’s Narrative by Hannah Crafts, as well as editor-in-chief of TheRoot.com.

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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 28, 2000

    Cane

    Cane is a book on the reflection of the era of the Harlem Renaissance. It is a book of short stories and poems. The book got a little dull by the end and the stories were not as interesting as they could be. I don't recommend this book to anyone. There are many other books about the Harlem Renaissance that are better than Cane.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 22, 2012

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