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Jean Toomer's Eternal South

Jean Toomer's Eternal South Jean by William M. Ramsey "how curiously, painfully creative is the South!" --letter to Waldo Frank, ca. Nov. 1922 " This book is the South," declared Waldo Frank in the 1923 foreword to his friend Jean Toomer's Cane (Frank 138). Toomer's fresh, new treatment of southern folk, he averred, made Cane "a harbinger of the South's literary maturity" (139). Yet neither man was southern. Frank was a white northeasterner who had visited the South on three occasions then wrote a bad novel, Holiday, ineptly interpreting southern culture and lynching. For his part, Jean Toomer visited the Deep South only twice, totaling less than three months. Nonetheless his own anonymous review of Cane, intended for publication in The Call, emphasized his achievement in depicting the South.1 Noting the emergence of contemporary regionalists such as Frost, Sandburg, Masters, and Sherwood Anderson, he claimed that in the South, too, "a splendid birth was imminent" ( Jones, Selected Essays 11). As to Cane, despite its inclusion of considerable material not set in Georgia, he emphasized that it all "is so evidently Southern in content" (15). As I will argue, Toomer's authorial stance actually was both in and outside the South, and this http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

Jean Toomer's Eternal South

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 36 (1) – Dec 30, 2003

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2003 by the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461
Publisher site
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Abstract

Jean by William M. Ramsey "how curiously, painfully creative is the South!" --letter to Waldo Frank, ca. Nov. 1922 " This book is the South," declared Waldo Frank in the 1923 foreword to his friend Jean Toomer's Cane (Frank 138). Toomer's fresh, new treatment of southern folk, he averred, made Cane "a harbinger of the South's literary maturity" (139). Yet neither man was southern. Frank was a white northeasterner who had visited the South on three occasions then wrote a bad novel, Holiday, ineptly interpreting southern culture and lynching. For his part, Jean Toomer visited the Deep South only twice, totaling less than three months. Nonetheless his own anonymous review of Cane, intended for publication in The Call, emphasized his achievement in depicting the South.1 Noting the emergence of contemporary regionalists such as Frost, Sandburg, Masters, and Sherwood Anderson, he claimed that in the South, too, "a splendid birth was imminent" ( Jones, Selected Essays 11). As to Cane, despite its inclusion of considerable material not set in Georgia, he emphasized that it all "is so evidently Southern in content" (15). As I will argue, Toomer's authorial stance actually was both in and outside the South, and this

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Dec 30, 2003

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