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"When the Sun Goes Down": The Ghetto Pastoral Mode in Jean Toomer's Cane

"When the Sun Goes Down": The Ghetto Pastoral Mode in Jean Toomer's Cane " hentheSunGoesDown": W TheGhettoPastoralMode inJeanToomer'sCane by Donald M. Shaffer, Jr. Darwin Turner once wrote of Jean Toomer's literary masterpiece, Cane, that "[Cane] inspires critical rhapsodies rather than analysis" (In a Minor Chord 207). Turner's observation is suggestive of the critical challenges that Cane poses. While there is no consensus regarding Cane's formal structure, critics have often described it in thematic terms as a pastoral work. Bernard Bell's reading of Cane as "a pastoral work, contrasting the values of uninhibited, unlettered Black rustics with those of the educated, class consciousness Black bourgeoisie," privileges the lyrical elements of the novel and its indebtedness to a "Afro American tradition of music as a major structural device" ("Portrait of an Artist" 13). Yet his analysis here only extends to the poetic pieces that intersperse Cane without comparing them to the prose narratives that provide a thematic and structural counter-point to them. Lucinda MacKethan also offers a reading of the novel as a pastoral narrative, arguing that Toomer "mold[ed] [Cane] into a version of Southern pastoral perceived with the black man's double vision of deep belonging and forced alienation" ("A Pastoral Problem" 425 ). MacKethan's description of Toomer's "ironic pastoral vision" in Cane http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

"When the Sun Goes Down": The Ghetto Pastoral Mode in Jean Toomer's Cane

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 45 (1) – Jul 19, 2012

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2012 The Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English and Comparative Literature.
ISSN
1534-1461
Publisher site
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Abstract

" hentheSunGoesDown": W TheGhettoPastoralMode inJeanToomer'sCane by Donald M. Shaffer, Jr. Darwin Turner once wrote of Jean Toomer's literary masterpiece, Cane, that "[Cane] inspires critical rhapsodies rather than analysis" (In a Minor Chord 207). Turner's observation is suggestive of the critical challenges that Cane poses. While there is no consensus regarding Cane's formal structure, critics have often described it in thematic terms as a pastoral work. Bernard Bell's reading of Cane as "a pastoral work, contrasting the values of uninhibited, unlettered Black rustics with those of the educated, class consciousness Black bourgeoisie," privileges the lyrical elements of the novel and its indebtedness to a "Afro American tradition of music as a major structural device" ("Portrait of an Artist" 13). Yet his analysis here only extends to the poetic pieces that intersperse Cane without comparing them to the prose narratives that provide a thematic and structural counter-point to them. Lucinda MacKethan also offers a reading of the novel as a pastoral narrative, arguing that Toomer "mold[ed] [Cane] into a version of Southern pastoral perceived with the black man's double vision of deep belonging and forced alienation" ("A Pastoral Problem" 425 ). MacKethan's description of Toomer's "ironic pastoral vision" in Cane

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jul 19, 2012

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