ISBN-10: 0141180250

ISBN-13: 9780141180250

Edition: 1997

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Nella Larsen (1891-1964) occupies a central place in African-American and Modernist literature, and her status as a Harlem Renaissance woman writer is rivaled only by Zora Neale Hurston's. This Norton Critical Edition of Larsen's electrifying 1929 novel is accompanied by Carla Kaplan's insightfully detailed introduction, explanatory annotations, and a Note on the Text "Backgrounds and Contexts" connects Passing to the historical events of the day, most notably the sensational Rhinelander/Jones case of 1925. Fourteen contemporary reviews are reprinted, including those by Alice Dunbar-Nelson, W. B. Seabrook, Mary Griffin, and W. E. B. Du Bois. Little-known documents, including those by Juanita Ellsworth and Caleb Johnson, reveal America's fascination with-and fear of-the cultural phenomenon of passing. Also included are Larsen's statements on the novel and on passing, as well as a generous selection of her letters. The theme of "The Tragic Mulatto(a)" in American literature is explored through related writings by Lydia Maria Child, William Wells Brown, Kate Chopin, Mark Twain, Countee Cullen, and Langston Hughes, among others. Finally, Joseph Seamon Cotter, Jr., Jessie Redmon Fauset, Countee Cullen, W. E. B. Du Bois, Allen Semi [Nella Larsen], George S. Schuyler, Carl Van Vechten, and Langston Hughes voice their impressions of passing from the perspective of the Harlem Renaissance. "Criticism" provides sixteen diverse interpretations of Passing by, among others, Deborah E. McDowell, Judith Butler, Cheryl A. Wall, Thadious M. Davis, George Hutchinson, Mary Helen Washington, Ann duCille, Gayle Wald, Claudia Tate, and Jennifer DeVere Brody. A Chronology and Selected Bibliography are also included. Book jacket.
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Book details

List price: $10.00
Copyright year: 1997
Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
Publication date: 9/1/1997
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 160
Size: 5.25" wide x 8.00" long x 0.50" tall
Weight: 0.286
Language: English

Nella Larsen was associated with the Harlem Renaissance. She also worked as a librarian and a nurse in New York City, pursuing nursing after her brief, successful writing career until her death in 1964. Larsen's mother was Danish, and her father was West Indian; she used her experience as the child of middle-class parents in a mixed marriage to create characters in two novels who are stranded, caught between two cultures and unable to feel wholly at home in either. In each of Larsen's novels, the heroine suffers suffocating constrictions of her identity in both African American and white European culture. These crises in both Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929) are further complicated by the heroine's quest for sexual as well as social identity, and both novels end without hopeful resolution. Both contain autobiographical elements, but Quicksand, the more successful, reproduced in fictional form many of the circumstances of Larsen's own early life. Although her work had been out of print for many years, she has recently been rediscovered.

Thadious M. Davis is Geraldine R. Segal Professor of American Social Thought and professor of English at the University of Pennsylvania.

Introduction: Nella Larsen's Erotics of Race
A Note on the Text
The Text of Passing
Backgrounds and Contexts
"Passing" Is a Novel of Longings (April 27, 1929)
Beyond the Color Line (April 28, 1929)
The Color Line (April 28, 1929)
The Dilemma of Mixed Race: Another Study of the Color-line in New York (May 1, 1929)
As in a Looking Glass (May 3, 1929)
Touch of the Tar-brush (May 18, 1929)
Passing (June 1929)
The Cat Came Back (June 5, 1929)
Novel of Race Consciousness (June 23, 1929)
Passing (July 1929)
Passing (July 1929)
Passing (Aug. 1929)
Do They Always Return? (Sept. 28, 1929)
Passing (Dec. 1929)
Passing (Dec. 12, 1929)
Contemporary Coverage of Passing and Race
When Is a Caucasian Not a Caucasian? (March 2, 1911)
Writer Says Brazil Has No Color Line (Oct. 1925)
Does It Pay to "Pass?" (Aug. 20, 1927)
From White Negroes (May-June 1928)
3,000 Negroes Cross the Line Each Year (July 12, 1928)
From Negro to Caucasion, Or How the Ethiopian Is Changing His Skin (1929)
Crossing the Color Line (July 28, 1929)
From Crossing the Color Line (Aug. 26, 1931)
75,000 Pass in Philadelphia Every Day (Dec. 19, 1931)
Careful Lyncher! He May Be Your Brother (Jan. 21, 1932)
Blonde Girl Was 'Passing' (Jan. 23, 1932)
Virginia Is Still Hounding 'White' Negroes Who 'Pass'
The Rhinelander/Jones Case
Society Youth Weds Cabman's Daughter (Nov. 14, 1924)
Poor Girl to Fight Hubby's Parents (Dec. 26, 1924)
From Calls Rhinelander Dupe of Girl He Wed (Nov. 10, 1925)
From Loved Rhinelander, Wife's Letters Say (Nov. 13, 1925)
From Rhinelander Bares Love Secrets (Nov. 21, 1925)
From Kip's "Soul Message" Notes Read (Nov. 28. 1925)
From Rhinelander Jury Reaches a Decision after Twelve Hours (Dec. 5, 1925)
[Rhinelander Editorial], The Crisis (Jan. 1926)
Rhinelander Gets a Fair Deal (Jan. 26, 1926)
Mrs. Rhinelander to Sail (July 16, 1926)
About Nella Larsen
New Author Unearthed Right Here in Harlem (May 23, 1928)
Behind the Backs of Books and Authors (April 13, 1929)
Jean Blackwell Hutson to Louise Fox (Aug. 1, 1969)
Author's Statements
[Nella Larsen Imes, Guggenheim Application]
[In Defense of Sanctuary]
To Carl Van Vechten [1925]
To Charles S. Johnson [Aug. 1926]
To Eddie Wasserman [April 3, 1928]
To Eddie Wasserman [April 5, 1928]
To Dorothy Peterson [n.d.]
To Dorothy Peterson [July 19, 1927]
To Dorothy Peterson [July 21, 1927]
To Dorothy Peterson [Aug. 2, 1927]
To Langston Hughes [n.d.]
To Langston Hughes [1930]
To Carl Van Vechten [April 15, 1929]
To Gertrude Stein (Jan. 26, 1931)
To Carl Van Vechten [May 14, 1932]
The Tragic Mulatto (A)
The Quadroons
From The Garies and Their Friends
From Clotel
From Iola Leroy
From An Imperative Duty
The Father of Desiree's Baby
From Pudd'nhead Wilson
From The House Behind the Cedars
The Octoroon
Near White
From Imitation of Life
Selections from Stories and Novels of Passing: "The Moment of Regret"
From Iola Leroy
From The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man
From Flight
From Plum Bun
From Black No More
Selected Writings from the Harlem Renaissance
The Mulatto to His Critics
The Sleeper Wakes
Two Who Crossed a Line
Criteria of Negro Art
From The Negro-Art Hokum
From Nigger Heaven
Passing for White, Passing for Colored, Passing for Negroes Plus
Nella Larsen's Passing: A Study in Irony
Nella Larsen's Passing: A Problem of Interpretation
Nella Larsen: Mystery Woman of the Harlem Renaissance
From Passing for What? Aspects of Identity in Nella Larsen's Novels
[From Black Female Sexuality in Passing]
Nella Larsen's Harlem Aesthetic
From Miscegenation and "The Dicta of Race and Class": The Rhinelander Case and Nella Larsen's Passing
Clare Kendry's "True" Colors: Race and Class Conflict in Nella Larsen's Passing
From Sororophobia
Passing, Queering: Nella Larsen's Psychoanalytic Challenge
From Passing Fancies
Nella Larsen and the Veil of Race
From The Recurring Conditions of Nella Larsen's Passing
Passing and Domestic Tragedy
Passing: Race, Identification, and Desire
Racial Etiquette: Nella Larsen's Passing and the Rhinelander Case
A Chronology
Selected Bibliography
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