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 usually been linked to the “New Negro” or Harlem Renaissance, a circulation of African American artwork, tradition, and intellectualism among international struggle I and the nice melancholy. yet his dating to the circulate was once advanced. 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 in the course of the Twenties and Nineteen Thirties. His energetic participation in Communist teams and the novel Left additionally inspired yes evaluations 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 potential to be a black “rebel sojourner” and provides one of many first unflattering, but informative, exposés of the Harlem Renaissance. Reprinted right here with a serious creation by way of Gene Andrew Jarrett, this booklet will problem readers to reconsider McKay’s articulation of identification, paintings, race, and politics and situate those subject matters by way of his oeuvre and his literary contemporaries among the area wars.
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Additional resources for A Long Way from Home (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the Americas)
Home to Harlem did not derive from Carl Van Vechten’s Nigger Heaven (1926) as critics, according to McKay, wrongly alleged. McKay, however, did reap the commercial reward of publishing Home to Harlem in the wake of Nigger Heaven, during the vogue for all things exotically or primitively Negro. See chapters 25 and 27 of A Long Way from Home in which McKay talks about the similarities of and differences between Home to Harlem and Carl Van Vechten’s Nigger Heaven. See chapter 21 of A Long Way from Home in which McKay discourses on the notion of a distinctive American art and on the distinction between bourgeois and proletarian art.
He answered graciously: “Whenever you are free, telephone me, and I’ll see that we get together. And he gave me his private telephone number and address. That night our crew slept in Harrisburg. The next afternoon we were in Pittsburgh, and free until the following morning. We went to the sleeping quarters in Wylie Avenue and checked in for our beds, after which the crew split up. A good distance from Wylie Avenue the colored folk had managed to maintain a café and cabaret on the edge of a section of the white district downtown.
I had no desire for sleep. I was too uplifted by Frank Harris’s grand voice, roaring like a waterfall in my head. I had listened to many voices that were lovely before, but very often it was the association of the individual with the speech that made the voice ﬁne to me. With Frank Harris it was different. It was the voice of itself only, like a disembodied element. Oh, what an amazing evening it was! I had gone expecting less than an hour’s interview, merely the formal thing that editors and publishers consider it their business to grant sometimes.
A Long Way from Home (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the Americas) by Claude McKay