The Murder Exchange gUiet and eerie Cane trembles with surreal beauty Toomer s language is at once lucid and suggestive his subjects disturbing and anguished the tension between Toomer s aesthetically appealing prose and his painful subject matter proves to be incre An astonishingly beautiful sensual lyrical formally experimental book In character vignettes of one two three pages interleaved with short poems Toomer explores the lives of black people mostly in the rural south specifically a tiny hamlet dominated by a sawmill marked mostly by smells and sounds sugar cane fields and pines the timeseason autumn the time dusk In fact every story in this collection could be called Dusk with all its overtones Though largely rural a couple of the portraits are of city people and though Toomer was associated with the Harlem Renaissance the city is Washington DC where Toomerrew up a weird liminal zone between North and South A man of mixed race son of prominent people back several Love in Catalina Cove (Catalina Cove generations an interesting American tale in itself he struggled with America s sense of categorization of race Toomer was a very complex person and his portraits are eually complex and extremely poetic He didn t write much after Cane and spiritual uests occupied much of his life He followed Gurdjieff he was a uaker he corresponded with Edgar Cayce and even studied Scientology A restless seeker he was a subtle and uestioning man and Cane is a tour de forceHere s a lyric passage in a piece called Blood Burning MoonUp from the deep dusk of a cleared spot on th edge of the forest a mellowlow arose and spread fan wise into the low hanging heavens And all around the air was heavy with the scent of boiling cane A large pile of cane stalks lay like ribboned shadows upon the The Million Dollar Goal ground A mule harnessed to a polerudged lazily round and round the pivot of the rinder Beneath a swaying oil lamp a Negro alternately whipped out at the muleand fed cane stalks to the rinder A fat boy waddled pails of fresh Trudy ground juice between therinder and the boiling stove Steam came from the copper boiling pan The scene of cane came from the copper pan and drenched the forest and the hill that sloped to factory town beneath its fragrance It drenched the men in circle seated around the stove Some chewed at the white pulp of stalks but there was no need for them to if all they wanted was to taste the cane One tasted it in factory town And from factory town one could see the soft haze thrown by the lowing stove upon the low hanging heavensHere s a passage from Fern my favorite storyWe walked down the Pike with people on all the porches aping at us Doesnt it make you mad She meant the row of petty The Unlikeliest Hero: The Story of Desmond T. Doss gossiping people She meant the world Through a canebrake that was ripe for cutting the branch was reached Under a sweetum tree and where reddish leaves had dammed the creek a little we sat down Dusk suggesting the almost imperceptible procession of
giant trees settledtrees settled a purpose haze about the cane I felt strange as I always do in Georgia particularly at dusk I felt that things unseen to men were tangibly immediate it would not men were tangibly immediate It would not surprised me had I had vision People have them in Georgia often than you would suppose A black woman once saw the mother of Christ and drew her in charcoal on the courthouse wall this drawing appears in other stories When one is on the soil of one s ancestors most anything can come to one My friend knows how infatuated I am with literature from the Harlem Renaissance era so he called when he included this book on his teaching list It brought back memories of the many literary socials we had over a few brews on our rad school s verandah readings discussions snippets of music here and there readings which led to social commentary and such which in turn led to just plain chitchat about book preferences and how they affect everyday life a conversation that lasted past midnight and brought our colleagues to the verandah #For Either A Drink Or #either a drink or say please keep it down I m working on my lecture notes I could use layers of perspective he told me So I pulled this book from my shelf and highlighted sections Then I pulled my copy of The New Negro edited by If you have heard a Jewish cantor sing if he has touched you and made your own sorrow seem trivial when compared with his you will know my feeling when I follow the curves of her profile like mobile rivers to their common deltaI find it impossible this morning to attempt comment on a lynching or a literary reflection thereof Despite my tone deaf roaning as of late about dialect the final parable in this tome touched me Earnest Cane is a modernist m lange of prose and verse A Biblical air is present but the motivations are Freudian This book was recommended to me about 10 years ago by a childhood friend That friend was entitled to his own weary blues Two readerships here for which this one is UEberpertinent 1 readers of the Classics of AfricanAmerican fiction2 readers of things experimental in the category of It s Not Really a Novel but what then is it3 Also for readers of I Ain t An AfricanAmerican Author and I Don t Write Experimental NovelsStuffReally this is one of the places it all began Powerful and poetic vignettes of blacks in rural Georgia and immigrants to the Washington DC area near the turn of the 20th century We feel their daily integration with their mind numbing dusty work in the cane fields or saw mills and feel their struggle against internalized forms of racism and sexism In the urban environment we feel A literary masterpiece of the Harlem Renaissance Cane is a powerful work of innovative fiction evoking black life in the South The sketches poems and stories of bl. ,
Jean Toomer · 9 ReviewKnown as the Negro Renaissance or Harlem Renaissance was partly rooted in Cane It evidenced racial pride in the feeling expressed by writers that they had to create rooted in Cane It evidenced racial pride in the feeling expressed by writers that they had to create regard for stereotypical audience expectations if they were to understand the special experience of Black America As Langston Hughes put it in a manifesto of the 1920 s If white people are pleased we are lad If they are not it doesn t matter Toomer uestioned the harmonies and values of his society Cane is no conventional world of Black primitives or exotics It is a montage of women ripened too soon impotized by the moral prescriptions of bourgeois society transfixed into virgins and virgin mothers by men who do not understand them neuroticized by the tensions between their subconscious physical urges and their conscious conformity to society s strictures against even the possibility of emotions women who wail futilely against their society Cane is a world of men traumatised and destroyed by bigotry men bent double by materialism dreamers who cannot rouse themselves to action men who rationalise their desires into idealised abstractions men who cover in drink and sex to hide their fears men who cannot afford help beyond that of material oods Black reapers with the sound of steel on stones Are sharpening scythes I see them place the hones In their hip pockets as a thing that s done And start their silent swinging one by one It isn t necessary to know exactly what it means in order to feind pleasure in reading Cane In fact it is easy to support the impression that Cane is a collection of fragments coincidentally unified by a common binding It is a collection of character sketches short poems and a play The first discrete section of the book contains six sketches Each is set in rural Georgia and focuses on a woman s relationship to her instinctual sexual being The second discrete part of Cane follows the trail of history to portray characters who have migrated from the rural South to Washington DC The theme of the first part is reinforced by the impressionistic style of narration that conveys the sensations of instinctual life as the narrator comes to feel them With the second part that style is no longer functional for Toomer because he believes the urban environment in contrast to the world of cane and soil and pine and the changing social experience cut people off from the sources of feeling and vitiate their spirit Toomer therefore needs a style in the second part that covnveys the disintegration of collective and spontaneous life When Paul is at last ready to love he insists upon talking about it to a doorman assuring him that it is a Prisoner of Midnight genuine love and thus donning spontaneity When he returns from this self conscious apology Bona is alreadyone Like Muriel and others in the world of Cane Kabnis out of fear blocks the flow of spontaneous feeling I used t love that BOSH!: The Cookbook: Simple Recipes. Amazing Food. All Plants. girl Yassur An sometimes when th moon is thick an I hear dogs up th valley barkin an some old woman fetches out her song an th winds seem like th Lord made them for t fetch an carry th smell o pine an cane an there aint no big job on foot I sometimeset t thinkin that I still do The dominant contrast between the Georgia section of Cane and the Northern section is between a natural response to sexual drives and a self conscious frustrating inability to realise oneself Part One thus shows the Black Southerner in his twilight hour his strength and beauty still discernible against the complementary background of Georgia s pine forests and cane fields but his future definitely in jeopardy In Part Two the background changes becoming now the streets and white walled buildings of Northern cities There the women are afraid of their sexuality and men are afraid to approach them Civilisation stifles them the pressure to conform makes them impotent It is also true however that consciously or subconsciously Toomer knew that he
Was Visiting In Thevisiting in the Thus he could write sympathetically as one who feels kinship yet maintains artistic detachment He desired merely to observe to sense and to reflect the milieu not to change it When he wrote of Washington and Chicago however he lost his detachment He wanted to reform the people to rid them of their indolence and their anxieties and their inhibitions Conseuently his tone became sharper sardonic satirical Avey he lamented is too much like a cow She lives by instinct with few drives and fewer oals Yet Toomer had not sat in judgment upon Karintha and Fern who were also creatures of instinct Toomer one suspects expected such behaviour from them they were the Southern Blacks the children of nature Men are apt to idolize or fear that which they cannot understand especially if it be a woman Cane is a challenging piece of experimental writing It walks the line between feeding into the stereotype of Black people as over sexualised beings and trying to write from a place within oneself disregarding the social stigma and what white people might think The women in Cane are objectified to the point that they become damaged And though Jean Toomer is clearly trying to subvert this objectification of women in doing so he must paradoxically objectify them first He writes with purpose He tries to convey the message that no matter how hard women try and no matter what they do they are not permitted to be in control of their lives Alice Walker said of the book It has been reverberating in me to an astonishing degree I love it passionately could not possibly exist without Ured as a harsher reality of asphalt streets Impressionistic sometimes surrealistic the pieces are redolent of nature and Africa with sensuous appeals to eye and ,
Heir mix of hopes for promised freedom and of their alienation and despair of continual poverty Some find a connection in churches to the values from their rural origins while others seethe with anger and jealousies and et in trouble or numb themselves with drink The rise of the jazz age call some to other avenues of hope and make a backdrop for others haunted by forbidden interracial lust Toomer s capturing of the rhythms of speech by ordinary people is a marvel that feels to me the eual of the prolific fellow member of the Harlem Renaissance Langston Hughes It was a bit of a surprise to experience his sensitivity in portraying women in his first six stories I admire the adaptation of repetitive call and response schemes common to the Baptist church One story begins and ends with the haunting refrain Betty was the white woman who had two Negro sons She s dead they ve Mr. Jelly's Business gone away The pines whisper to Jesus The Bible flaps its leaves with an aimless rustle on her moundThe poems placed between narratives make for moving or shocking interludes For example two poems frame a story of a black housekeeper who is courted by the white son of her employer Jealousy on the part of a black admirer leads to a fight ending with the whiteetting his throat cut and the victor etting burned up in an old cotton factory by a white mob uPortrait in GeorgiaHair braided chestnutcoiled like a lyncher s ropeEyes fagotsLips old scars or the first red blistersBreath the last sweet scent of caneAnd her slim body white as the ashof black flesh after flameThe following incantation is repeated three times with the story of the tragedy Red nigger moon SinnerBlood burning moon SinnerCome out that fact ry door I see why this work is considered a seminal voice in American literature Although this book is typically identified as black literature Toomer himself whose mixed blood allowed him often to pass as a white once advocated for a broader view in a letter to a magazine From my own point of view I am naturally and inevitably an American I have strived for a spiritual fusion analogous to the fact of racial intermingling Without denying a single element in me I have sought to let them function as complements I have tried to let them live in harmony Within the last two or three years however my rowing need for artistic expression as pulled me deeper and deeper into the Negro Gökyüzü Mavi Kaldı group Now I cannot see myself as aloof and separated My point of view has not changed it has deepened it has widened This is uite a brilliant remarkable and odd book that somehow no one told me personally that I should read Why has the secret been kept Okay a recent check confirms that Bloom had it on his Western Canon list But Toomer s just a name how was I supposed to know he s actuallyoodIt is to a large extent a portrait of many of the horrors and a few of the beauties of small town slavery but still ravely unjust southern life from A BLACK PERSPECTIVE IT S ALSO black perspective It s also uncharaterizable of styles and modes incorporating some lyric poetry some straight narrative some psychological insight some expressionistic stuff some borderline surrealism all processed deftly by an innovative and masterly mindSomehow he works in such oddities as this Her mind is a pink meshbag filled with baby toeswithout throwing the novel into pure abstraction Well okay but the whole Rhobert chapter is rather far out as far as far out oesHere are so Karintha is a woman Men do not know that the soul of her was a The Sun Shines Over the Sanggan River growing thing ripened too soon They will bring their money they will die not having found it outKarintha at twenty carrying beauty perfect as dusk when the sunoes down Karintha This book is a structurally inventive mix of prose poetry and drama with beautiful language This new edition also contains an essay about the uestion of race and the life and career of the mixed race Toomer who was an important figure in the Harlem Renaissance and modernist literature This was a thoroughly strange and surreal book made all the surreal by the fact that it was one of the first avant arde black American novels Toomer s world explodes with color and light with shades of Faulkner and Sherwood Anderson If there is a document of American magical realism this is it It s too easy when describing the rural black South to rely on stereotypes and minstrelsy Zora Neale Hurston I m looking at you Toomer to his credit doesn t at all His world is too damn weird Jean Toomer s Cane was published in a small edition in 1923 Despite #favourable reviews Cane was not reprinted until 1927 For the next forty #reviews Cane was not reprinted until 1927 For the next forty it remained out of print Like a nova Toomer s literary career exploded into brilliance with Cane then faded from the view of all but the few who continuously scanned the literary alaxy Cane proved to be a swan wong not only as Toomer believed for the folk culture but also for his own writing career as he only published one small book afterwards No matter what it may have been for him Cane still sings to readers not the swan song of an era that was dying but the morning hymn of a Renaissance that was beginning Night winds in Georgia are vagrant poets whispering It was an anticipation of what was to come later Zora Neale Hurston s first novel was published in 1934 eleven years after Cane Richard Wright made his bow with Uncle Tom s Children in 1938 fifteen years later Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison followed Toomer s work by just thirty years James Baldwin was not born when Toomer began to publish What became. Ack rural and urban life that make up Cane are rich in imagery Visions of smoke sugarcane dusk and flame permeate the Southern landscape the Northern world is pict.