By Claude McKay
Claude McKay (1889–1948) used to be essentially the most prolific and complicated African American writers of the early 20th century. A Jamaican-born writer of poetry, brief tales, novels, and nonfiction, McKay has frequently been linked to the “New Negro” or Harlem Renaissance, a circulate of African American artwork, tradition, and intellectualism among international battle I and the good melancholy. yet his dating to the flow was once complicated. actually absent from Harlem in the course of that interval, he committed such a lot of his time to touring via Europe, Russia, and Africa throughout the Twenties and Nineteen Thirties. His energetic participation in Communist teams and the unconventional Left additionally inspired convinced reviews on race and sophistication that strained his dating to the Harlem Renaissance and its black intelligentsia. In his 1937 autobiography, A good distance from Home, McKay explains what it capability to be a black “rebel sojourner” and provides one of many first unflattering, but informative, exposés of the Harlem Renaissance. Reprinted the following with a severe advent through Gene Andrew Jarrett, this ebook will problem readers to reconsider McKay’s articulation of id, artwork, race, and politics and situate those themes when it comes to his oeuvre and his literary contemporaries among the area wars.
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Extra info for A Long Way from Home (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the Americas)
My scrapbook interested Frank Harris. It was crowded with the souvenirs of adolescence: pictures of famous literati cut from English and American magazines, unusual newspaper items, letters from Mr. Jekyll about my verse. . He came upon a cutting from T. ’s Weekly with a prize poem of mine. This prompted him to say that he was well acquainted with T. P. O’Connor, whom he described as a successful Irishman whom the English liked because he never possessed an idea. There was also a letter from Lord Stamfordham, the private secretary of King George, to Mr.
I told Harris how, with this man’s excellent library at my disposal, I read poetry: Childe Harold, The Dunciad, Essay on Man, Paradise Lost, the Elizabethan lyrics, Leaves of Grass, the lyrics of Shelley and Keats and of the late Victorian poets, and how he translated and we read together pieces out of Dante, Leopardi, and Goethe, Villon and Baudelaire. During those years also Mr. Jekyll was translating Schopenhauer and I read a lot from his translation. Then he suggested Spinoza’s Ethics, which I read, skipping the mathematical hypotheses, and for a time considered myself a pantheist.
It was much easier to create and scribble a stanza of poetry in the interval between trains than to write a paragraph of prose. Frank Harris took me into his sanctum and sat down with me over the sheets. He impressed me quite differently than he had on the night of our memorable meeting: there was something boulevardier about his dress and manner which seemed a little funny. I had no great conﬁdence in what I had written, and said so. He said that the fact that I was aware was a good sign. He glanced over the sheets rapidly.
A Long Way from Home (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the Americas) by Claude McKay