- Paperback: 256 pages
- Publisher: Liveright; New edition (June 13, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0871402106
- ISBN-13: 978-0871402103
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.7 x 8.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 64 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,146 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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By far the most impressive product of the Negro Renaissance, Cane ranks with Richard Wright's Native Son and Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man as a measure of the Negro novelist's highest achievement. Jean Toomer belongs to that first rank of writers who use words almost as a plastic medium, shaping new meanings from an original and highly personal style. --Robert A. Bone, The Negro Novel in America (1965)"
About the Author
Jean Toomer (1894–1967) was born in Washington, D.C., the son of educated blacks of Creole stock. Literature was his first love and he regularly contributed avant garde poetry and short stories to such magazines as Dial, Broom, Secession, Double Dealer, and Little Review. After a literary apprenticeship in New York, Toomer taught school in rural Georgia. His experiences there led to the writing of Cane.
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Toomer himself is a fascinating guy, ambivalent about being Black and defining himself that way. He was raised by his mother and her family after his father abandoned wife and child. Identity is for Toomer a major preoccupation. He took the name "Jean," and for years played with his own naming He went off to Paris after writing Cane, not the first African-American artist who got away in order to find himself.
When teaching, I always told students to avoid introductions or criticism; rather, I said, go directly to the text so that you are able to first have an unmediated, emotional/intellectual response of your own. I'd make an exception in this case, since one's first contact with Cane elicits a response something like: What IS this?! So I found myself weaving back and forth between text and the excellent afterword, reading bits of it to understand better the context of the work.