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    By: Barbara Foley

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    "With the publication of Cane in 1923 Jean Toomer emerged one of the most widely read, and now one of the most widely studied, authors of the Harlem Renaissance. Honored as a bold literary experimenter and as an eyewitness reporter of the abuses and outrages of Jim Crow Georgia, Toomer himself wished to evade being considered an African American writer and instead sought appreciation as a poet and idealist. While those qualities of his work have attracted significant critical attention, and his biographyhas been explored to illuminate them, his interest in class struggle and revolution have been eclipsed. In a series of articles that culminate in this book, Barbara Foley brings those aspects back into the light and into close focus, showing how often and how deeply he thought about them and how fierce and enduring they were. Without making the error of ignoring Toomer's artistic accomplishments, Foley shows how much history surrounds and informs Toomer's work, especially in Cane. In his journals from the time when he was writing Cane, Toomer wrote, "It is a symptom of weakness when one must bring God, equality, liberty, and justice to one's support. It follows that the working classes, particularly the dark-skinned among the working classes, are still weak. . . . If the Negro, consolidated on race rather than class interests, ever become strong enough to demand the exercise of Power, a race war will occur in America." This book examines Toomer's sense of "equality, liberty, and justice," of "nation," the South," and "America," to reveal elements in his writings that ignite them"--

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