Cane (Norton Critical Edition) / Edition 1 available in Paperback
Originally published in 1923, Cane is a literary masterpiece of the Harlem Renaissance. The growing interest in African-American literature that began in the 1960's led to the rediscovery of earlier African-American writers, one of whom is Jean Toomer, author of Cane. It is an innovative literary workpart drama, part poetry, part fiction.
"Backgrounds" contains generous excerpts from Jean Toomer's correspondence with fellow writers Sherwood Anderson, Waldo Frank, and Allen Tate, and with his publisher, Horace Liveright.
Darwin T. Turner's "Introduction" (to the 1975 Liveright edition of Cane), reprinted here, presents the historical and literary backgrounds of the work, as well as additional biographical information on Toomer.
"Criticism", both contemporary and recent, on Cane and Toomer is wide-ranging and includes essays by W. E. B. Du Bois, Gorham B. Munson, Robert Bone, Patricia Watkins, Lucinda H. MacKethan, Nellie Y. McKay, and Darwin T. Turner.
About 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.
Darwin T. Turner was professor of English at the University of Iowa and head of its Afro-American World Studies Program. He wrote extensively about Jean Toomer. He was the author of In a Minor Chord: Three Afro-American Writers and Their Search for Identity, Katharsis, and Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Scarlet Letter." He edited, among other books, The Wayward and the Seeking: Selected Writings by Jean Toomer, Afro-American Writers, and Black American Literature: Essays, Poetry, Fiction, Drama. Professor Turner's poems were published in numerous journals, as were his many articles and reviews, most concerned with Afro-American writers.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
First part is extremely good, especially the poems. Second part is okay. Third part you can take a pass on.
I'm still not entirely convinced of Cane's literary value as a single unified text, but there is interesting and worthwhile material here, at least in parts. As a whole, each reader will have to decide separately. Modernism aside, I'm not particularly convinced that all of this is edited, purposeful, or together.
This work is truly of the first calibur. Toomer speaks multitudes of the black experience. This is one of the definitive black literary ingenutities of our time.