By A. Kent
This booklet examines literature by way of African, local, and Jewish American novelists firstly of the 20 th century, a interval of radical dislocation from homelands for those 3 ethnic teams in addition to the interval whilst such voices proven themselves as vital figures within the American literary canon.
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Extra info for African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the Reshaping of Modernism
Despite such misreadings, the writers examined in this book resisted the genre pressures to write “real” accounts and instead chose to write fiction in response to the rapid changes of modernity. The following chapters examine in more depth six particularly intriguing, if not necessarily representative, novels by African, Native and Jewish American writers. Three of the novels (one from each ethnic group)—Chesnutt’s The Marrow of Tradition , Mourning Dove’s Cogewea and Cahan’s The Rise of David Levinsky—were written before “the world broke in 1922 or thereabouts,” as Willa Cather put 20 AFRICAN, NATIVE, AND JEWISH AMERICAN LITERATURE it (qtd.
McBane, however, more appropriately fits the widely circulated image of the violent black man than does Josh. McBane is described as “brutal” (252) because he advocates the indiscriminate killing of all African Americans (250), while Josh’s militancy is presented sympathetically as an understandable response to his father’s murder by McBane. Marrow reverses the racialized stereotype, illustrating that it is the Euro-American who is “more like” the negative portrayal than the African American. Similarly, Chesnutt uses the convention of twinning to rewrite the racialized doctrine of “true womanhood,” a nineteenth-century middle-class American ideal, circulated through women’s magazines, etiquette guides, and novels, according to which women were judged by virtues of purity, piety, submissiveness, and domesticity (Welter).
Washington responded by asserting his place in the American success story; he modeled his autobiography after Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and named himself after the founding father of America, George Washington (27). He optimistically assumed that the advent of modernity for African Americans meant their incorporation into mainstream American culture. Like Washington, many African Americans assumed that freedom meant the rights of full citizenship and integration into the broader American society, only to be denied this access (Franklin and Moss).
African, Native, and Jewish American Literature and the Reshaping of Modernism by A. Kent