By Claude McKay
Claude McKay (1889–1948) was once some of the most prolific and complicated African American writers of the early 20th century. A Jamaican-born writer of poetry, brief tales, novels, and nonfiction, McKay has usually been linked to the “New Negro” or Harlem Renaissance, a flow of African American artwork, tradition, and intellectualism among global warfare I and the good melancholy. yet his dating to the stream used to be complicated. actually absent from Harlem in the course of that interval, he committed so much of his time to touring via Europe, Russia, and Africa throughout the Twenties and Thirties. His lively participation in Communist teams and the novel Left additionally inspired yes critiques on race and sophistication that strained his courting to the Harlem Renaissance and its black intelligentsia. In his 1937 autobiography, A good distance from Home, McKay explains what it capacity to be a black “rebel sojourner” and provides one of many first unflattering, but informative, exposés of the Harlem Renaissance. Reprinted the following with a severe advent by means of Gene Andrew Jarrett, this publication will problem readers to reconsider McKay’s articulation of id, artwork, race, and politics and situate those issues by way of his oeuvre and his literary contemporaries among the realm wars.
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Additional info for A Long Way from Home (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the Americas)
My peasant childhood in a mountain country of a few hundred villages widely scattered over the hills. The missionary who built the ﬁrst mission—a Mr. Hathaway who claimed kinship to the Shakespeare Hathaways, and who started my school-teacher brother (the eldest) on the road to college and gave him his ﬁrst complete set of Shakespeare. My boyhood spent in various villages with that brother, spanned by the years between the Diamond Jubilee of Queen Victoria and her death: the indelible years of my ﬁrst reading of anything that was thrilling just for the thrill—the Waverly novels; Dickens in small sardine-packed words, bound in thin blue covers; the tomes of Mrs.
Beyond rubbing him the wrong way in social circles, the “damnable uniform” of black bourgeois assimilationism, or “the borrowed robes of hypocritical white respectability,” stood in sharp contrast to the quotidian hardship that he endured when he ﬁrst arrived in the United States and worked in menial jobs (chapters 9 and 20). McKay reserved his harshest criticism of the black intelligentsia for Locke. ” Yet Locke’s “rococo” personal and writing styles did not impress McKay nearly as much as the hypocrisy of his deanship (chapter 27).
For information about McKay’s homosexuality or bisexuality, see Cooper, Claude McKay, 29–32, 75, 131, 149–51, 390; Holcomb, “Diaspora Cruises”; Ross, Manning the Race; and Michael Maiwald, “Race, Capitalism, and the Third-Sex Ideal: Claude McKay’s Home to Harlem and the Legacy of Edward Carpenter,” Modern Fiction Studies 48 (Winter 2002): 825–57. For sections in A Long Way from Home where McKay talks about women and performs his heterosexuality, see chapters 2, 9, 12, 13, 22, 23, 25, 28, and 29.
A Long Way from Home (Multi-Ethnic Literatures of the Americas) by Claude McKay