Henry Louis Gates Jr.’s Book Claims Writer Jean Toomer Passed For White

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Massachusetts —  Henry Louis Gates Jr., the Harvard scholar, and Rudolph P. Byrd, a professor at Emory University, say their research for a new edition of “Cane” documents that Toomer was “a Negro who decided to pass for white.”

Renown came to Jean Toomer with his 1923 book “Cane,” which mingled fiction, drama and poetry in a formally audacious effort to portray the complexity of black lives. But the racially mixed Toomer’s confounding efforts to defy being stuck in conventional racial categories and his disaffiliation with black culture made him perhaps the most enigmatic writer associated with the Harlem Renaissance.

They lob this intellectual grenade in their introduction to the book, which W. W. Norton & Company is to publish next month.

Read full article at The New York Times

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