By A. Kent

This booklet examines literature via African, local, and Jewish American novelists initially of the 20th century, a interval of radical dislocation from homelands for those 3 ethnic teams in addition to the interval whilst such voices proven themselves as principal figures within the American literary canon.

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In a narrative intrusion in Marrow, Chesnutt writes, “In works of fiction, such men are sometimes converted. More often, in real life, they do not change their natures until they are converted into dust” (304). Ironically in this work of fiction, the violent Euro-American leader is not “converted” and dies trying to defend his white supremacist views. In Marrow, fiction enabled Chesnutt to critique American society at its core and to show that racial difference was a “social fiction” (“Future American” 861), a central argument he makes on the thematic as well as on the formal levels.

In a few hours the great questions with which the Anglo-Saxon race had been grappling for centuries had been thrown upon these people to be solved. These were the questions of a home, a living, the rearing of children, education, citizenship, and the establishment and support of churches. (17) While people of European descent had had hundreds of years to adjust to their position in the world, African Americans faced a game of catch-up in confronting the conditions of modernity. ” Washington responded by asserting his place in the American success story; he modeled his autobiography after Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography and named himself after the founding father of America, George Washington (27).

Rather than a closed system, the novel is polyphonic and includes a mix of voices and of genres, many languages and meanings juxtaposed with one another in narrative tension. The heteroglossia of the text foregrounds the Bakhtinian notion that language consists of multiple voices, allowing the reader to hear the repressed voices alongside the hegemonic voices in a dialogic exchange. These writers’ genre choice inserts them into an ongoing intertextual conversation with other novelists. Many of the writers examined in this book longed to be novelists from a young age, and some, most notably Chesnutt and McNickle, stated explicitly that they wanted to be a part of the American or Modernist literary traditions.

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