The Postwar African American Novel: Protest and Discontent, by Stephanie Brown

By Stephanie Brown

Americans on this planet battle II period acquired the novels of African American writers in extraordinary numbers. however the names at the books lining cabinets and filling barracks trunks weren't the now-familiar Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, yet Frank Yerby, Chester Himes, William Gardner Smith, and J. Saunders Redding.In this booklet, Stephanie Brown recovers the paintings of those cutting edge novelists, overturning traditional knowledge in regards to the writers of the interval and the trajectory of African American literary background. She additionally questions the assumptions in regards to the kinfolk among race and style that experience obscured the significance of those once-influential creators.Wright's local Son (1940) is usually thought of to have inaugurated an period of social realism in African-American literature. And Ellison's Invisible guy (1952) has been solid as either a excessive mark of yank modernism and the single useful stopover in order to the Black Arts flow of the Sixties. yet readers within the past due Nineteen Forties bought sufficient copies of Yerby's ancient romances to make him the best-selling African American writer of all time. Critics, in the meantime, have been being attentive to the common experiments of Redding, Himes, and Smith, whereas the authors themselves wondered the duty of black authors to write down protest, as an alternative penning campus novels, battle novels, and, in Yerby's case, "costume dramas." Their prestige as "lesser lighting fixtures" is the made of retrospective bias, Brown demonstrates, and their novels demonstrated the interval instantly following international conflict II as a pivotal second within the heritage of the African American novel.

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The Postwar African American Novel: Protest and Discontent, 1945-1950 (Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies)

Americans on this planet conflict II period obtained the novels of African American writers in remarkable numbers. however the names at the books lining cabinets and filling barracks trunks weren't the now-familiar Richard Wright and Ralph Ellison, yet Frank Yerby, Chester Himes, William Gardner Smith, and J. Saunders Redding.

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Extra resources for The Postwar African American Novel: Protest and Discontent, 1945-1950 (Margaret Walker Alexander Series in African American Studies)

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Halsey even anticipates Mailer’s use of combat metaphors, noting that no white person . . can understand what it means to be a Negro living in the United States of America, any more than a non-combatant can understand what it means to be in action. The constant danger which enshadows the Negro American all his life . . is something that cannot be conveyed to those who have not lived through it, any more than the feelings and sensations of being in combat can be shared with those to whom it did not happen.

The fact that Bone discusses these novels despite his misgivings about their value or utility for advancing the cause of black literature marks a substantial difference between his treatment of postwar black literature and subsequent renderings of the era that would simply erase “raceless” fiction from the radar screen in favor of the protest model that allegedly insisted that black writing hew to a specific perspective, if not format, to maintain its authenticity. As critic Madelyn Jablon puts it, because of this treatment of literature by African Americans as distinct from white literature, “an aversion to formal innovation became rooted in the sociohistorical approach to African American literature.

Lash insists that although many black critics liked to think that African American writers lived in an “Ebony tower,” what was called “race consciousness” in fiction was really a construction largely “determined by racist configurations” (34). Echoing Brown’s cynical assessment of the artificiality of “authentic” black writing, Lash ends his essay by remarking that “race consciousness . . is in fact an attitude, a technique of writing, a genre of literature which is not necessarily in actual practice Negroid.

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