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In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of…
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In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line

by George Hutchinson

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381454,178 (4.1)3
Born to a Danish seamstress and a black West Indian cook in one of the Western Hemisphereʾs most infamous vice districts, Nella Larsen (1891-1964) lived her life in the shadows of Americaʾs racial divide. She wrote about that life, was briefly celebrated in her time, then was lost to later generations-only to be rediscovered and hailed by many as the best black novelist of her generation. In his search for Nell Larsen, the ʺmystery woman of the Harlem Renaissance, ʺ George Hutchinson exposes the truths and half-truths surrounding this central figure of modern literary studies, as well as the complex reality they mask and mirror. His book is a cultural biography of the color line as it was lived by one person who truly embodied all of its ambiguities and complexities. We see Larsen vividly as an often tormented modernist, from the trauma of her childhood to her emergence as a star of the Harlem Renaissance. Showing the links between her experiences and her writings, Hutchinson illuminates the singularity of her achievement and shatters previous notions of her position in the modernist landscape. Revealing the suppressions and misunderstandings that accompany the effort to separate black from white, his book addresses the vast consequences for all Americans of color-line cultureʾs fundamental rule: race trumps family. Book jacket.Includes information about African Americans in nursing, Chicago, color line, Counte Cullen, Denmark, W.E.B. Du Bois, Fisk University, Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston, Elmer S. Imes, Spanish flu influenza pandemic, interracial marriage, James Weldon Johnson, miscegenation, Dorothy Peterson, New York Public Library (NYPL), black librarian, racial segregation, Ernestine Rose, Gertrude Stein, Carl Van Vechten, Walter White, Edgar C. Williams, etc.… (more)

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Nella Larsen was one of the most important writers of the Harlem Renaissance and also one of the most mysterious. ( )
  zenosbooks | Feb 25, 2009 |
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