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Voices from the Harlem Renaissance written by Nathan Irvin Huggins

 

Voices from the Harlem Renaissance written by Nathan Irvin Huggins

Overview:


The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s symbolized black liberation and sophistication--the final shaking off of slavery, in the mind, spirit, and character of African-Americans. It was a period when the African-American came of age, with the clearest expression of this transformation visible in the remarkable outpouring of literature, art, and music. In these years the "New Negro" was born, as seen in the shift of black leadership from Booker T. Washington to that of W.E.B. Du Bois, from Tuskegee to New York, and for some, even to the African nationalism of Marcus Garvey.

In Voices from the Harlem Renaissance, Nathan Irvin Huggins provides more than 120 selections from the political writings and arts of the period, each depicting the meaning of blackness and the nature of African-American art and its relation to social statement. Through these pieces, Huggins establishes the context in which the art of Harlem Renaissance occurred. We read the call to action by pre-Renaissance black spokesmen, such as A. Philip Randolph and W.E.B. DuBois who--through magazines such as The Messenger ("the only radical Negro magazine"), and the NAACP's Crisis--called for a radical transformation of the American economic and social order so as to make a fair world for black men and women. We hear the more flamboyant rhetoric of Marcus Garvey, who rejected the idea of social equality for a completely separate African social order. And we meet Alain Locke, whose work served to redefine the "New Negro" in cultural terms, and stands as the cornerstone of the Harlem Renaissance.

Huggins goes on to offer autobiographical writings, poetry, and stories of such men and women as Langston Hughes, Nancy Cunard, Helen Johnson, and Claude McKay--writings that depict the impact of Harlem and New York City on those who lived there, as well as the youthfulness and exuberance of the period. The complex question of identity, a very important part of the thought and expression of the Harlem Renaissance, is addressed in work's such as Jean Toomer's Bona and Paul and Zora Neale Hurston's Sweat. And Huggins goes on to attend to the voices of alienation, anger, and rage that appeared in a great deal of the writing to come out of the Harlem Renaissance by poets such as George S. Schuyler and Gwendolyn Bennett. Also included are over twenty illustrations by such artists as Aaron Douglas whose designs illuminated many of the works we associate with the Harlem Renaissance: the magazines Fire and Harlem; Alain Locke's The New Negro; and James Weldon Johnson's God's Trombones.

The vitality of the Harlem Renaissance served as a generative force for all New York--and the nation. Offering all those interested in the evolution of African-American consciousness and art a link to this glorious time, Voices from the Harlem Renaissance illuminates the African-American struggle for self-realization.

Nathan Irvin Huggins showcases more than 120 selections from the political writings and arts of the Harlem Renaissance. Featuring works by such greats as Langston Hughes, Aaron Douglas, and Gwendolyn Bennett, here is an extraordinary look at the remarkable outpouring of African-American literature and art during the 1920s.

Synopsis:

The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s symbolized black liberation and sophistication - the final shaking off of slavery from the minds, spirits, and characters of African Americans. It was a period when the African American came of age - when the "New Negro" was born - with the clearest expression of this transformation visible in its remarkable outpouring of literature, art, and music. In Voices from the Harlem Renaissance, Nathan Irvin Huggins provides more than 120 selections from the political writings, literature, and art of this watershed period. Bringing together the most trenchant works from such writers as Langston Hughes, Nancy Cunard, Alain Locke, and Zora Neale Hurston, this fascinating collection depicts the impact of Harlem and New York City on those who lived there. While focusing on the youthfulness and exuberance of the period, Huggins attends to the voices of alienation, anger, and rage - whether softly intoned or stridently voiced - so widely reflected in the writing of poets such as George S. Schuyler and Gwendolyn Bennett. Also included are over twenty paintings and sculptures of the Renaissance period by such artists as Aaron Douglas, Sargent Johnson, and Hale Woodruff. The vitality of the Harlem Renaissance served as a generative force for all New York - and the nation. Offering all those interested in the evolution of African-American consciousness and art a link to this glorious time, Voices of the Harlem Renaissance illuminates the African-American struggle for self-realization.

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