By Claude McKay
Claude McKay (1889–1948) was once probably 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 frequently been linked to the “New Negro” or Harlem Renaissance, a move of African American artwork, tradition, and intellectualism among global warfare I and the nice melancholy. yet his dating to the stream used to be advanced. actually absent from Harlem in the course of that interval, he committed such a lot of his time to touring via Europe, Russia, and Africa throughout the Nineteen Twenties and Nineteen Thirties. His energetic participation in Communist teams and the unconventional Left additionally inspired definite evaluations 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 ability 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 serious creation by means of Gene Andrew Jarrett, this booklet will problem readers to reconsider McKay’s articulation of id, paintings, race, and politics and situate those subject matters by way of his oeuvre and his literary contemporaries among the realm wars.
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Jekyll friend of yours is a remarkable person in a way. A man that it must have been a great experience to know. I can trace his inﬂuence in your poetry. Good, but you must go beyond that, my lad. I should have liked to match my intellect against his. ” And Frank Harris’s noble roar was modulated by a ﬁne note of tenderness as he spoke a little about the teacher of his American university days. It interested him that I also had gone to school in Kansas. And now he began to talk of his beginnings in Kansas, monologuing, launching out like a perfect little boat riding the great waves.
Du Bois had committed themselves to genres of African American literature that to an extent “betrayed” their racial identities as African descendants. ) But what did align Braithwaite with Locke, White, Fauset, and Du Bois was their mutual identiﬁcation with a community notorious for its social, cultural, intellectual, and economic exclusivity and, by implication, its detachment from a large black population whom they looked down upon as lower class. Whether self-professed or assumed by the public, McKay’s own association with the black intelligentsia and its alleged dominion over the Harlem Renaissance conﬂicted with his preference for radical society.
According to Cooper, McKay was reading and writing political material in Jamaican newspapers, and in the United States, while enrolled at Kansas State College from fall 1912 through spring 1914, he began his personal involvement with radical politics. See Cooper, Claude McKay, 18–49, 68. 7. Note that aside from a passing reference to a “beloved teacher at Tuskegee” late in the A Long Way from Home (chapter 23), McKay does not discuss his enrollment 000 fm (i-xl) 12/5/06 2:34 PM Page xxxvi x x x v i • introduction 8.