Realism, Modernism And Naturalism In African American Literature(3)

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Lit 325 Cambridge College

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Realism, Modernism And Naturalism In African American Literature(3)

  1. 1. 1940 - 1960 REALISM, NATURALISM, AND MODERNISM IN AFRICAN AMERICAN LITERATURE
  2. 2. Categorically... Realism: "A faithful reproduction of reality" Naturalism: "A harsher treatment of that reality" Modernism: "A strong and intentional break with tradition"
  3. 3. <ul><li>Richard Wright (1908 - 1960) </li></ul><ul><li>Ralph Ellison (1914 - 1994) </li></ul><ul><li>James Baldwin (1924 - 1987) </li></ul><ul><li>Gwendolyn Brooks (1917 - 2000) </li></ul><ul><li>Lorraine Hansberry (1930 - 1965) </li></ul>Important Writers
  4. 4. <ul><li>American novelist, born in Roxie Miss. in 1908 </li></ul><ul><li>Suffered from difficult home life, with breakup of parents and illness of mother </li></ul><ul><li>Moved to Chicago in 1927 and worked in menial jobs </li></ul><ul><li>Joined Communist party in 1932 </li></ul><ul><li>Became a member of Federal Writers' Project from 1935 -1937 </li></ul><ul><li>Moved to New York in 1937 and became the Harlem editor of Daily Worker </li></ul><ul><li>Left Communist party in 1944 </li></ul><ul><li>Settled in Paris in 1946 where he lived until his death of a heart attack in 1960 </li></ul>Richard Wright 1908 - 1960
  5. 5. <ul><li>Criticized writings of Harlem Renaissance </li></ul><ul><li>Native Son described reality of urban black America </li></ul><ul><li>Describes juvenile delinquents caught in urban poverty </li></ul><ul><li>Constituted the highest form of &quot;protest writing&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>1945 wrote Black Boy- a harrowing autobiography of growing up in the South </li></ul>Richard Wright and Urban Realism
  6. 6. <ul><li>Grew up in a poor neighborhood in Oklahoma, but was encouraged to succeed by parents, and attended best schools </li></ul><ul><li>Attended Tuskegee College on scholarship and studied music </li></ul><ul><li>Left to study sculpture in New York </li></ul><ul><li>Met Richard Wright and Langston Hughes who encouraged him to write for Federal Writers' Project </li></ul><ul><li>Pursued his writing interest by writing poetry, essays, fiction </li></ul><ul><li>Began Invisible Man after short time in Merchant Marines </li></ul><ul><li>Took seven years to complete novel (1952) </li></ul><ul><li>Worked on but never completed a trilogy and died in 1994 </li></ul>Ralph Ellison 1914 - 1994
  7. 7. <ul><li>Invisible Man reflected an experimental attitude, combining social responsibility, writing craft, and technical rigor of narrative, beyond the typical &quot;protest&quot; novel </li></ul><ul><li>Inspired by writings of Marx, Hemingway, Langston Hughes, James Baldwin, Richard Wright, and Freud </li></ul><ul><li>Inspired by jazz and blues music </li></ul><ul><li>His style departed from that of Richard Wright in that his characters were articulate, educated and self-aware </li></ul>Ralph Ellison and Black Modernism
  8. 8. Invisible Man Ralph Waldo Ellison achieved international fame with Invisible Man, written in 1952. According to its publisher, &quot; Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of &quot;the Brotherhood,&quot; and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.
  9. 9. <ul><li>Spoke of pain and suffering of black Americans and saving power of brotherhood </li></ul><ul><li>Born in Harlem in 1924, in poverty - oldest of 9 children, troubled and difficult childhood, strict demanding father </li></ul><ul><li>Developed a passion for writing and became friends with Richard Wright who secured grant to help him with writing career </li></ul><ul><li>Moved to Europe where he worked on his autobiographical novel Go Tell it on The Mountain (1953) </li></ul><ul><li>Continued to write often tackling taboo themes (homosexuality, interracial relationships) </li></ul><ul><li>Returned to America to become voice for equality, civil rights </li></ul>James Baldwin 1924 - 1987
  10. 10. <ul><li>&quot;all artists, if they are to survive are forced to tell the whole story&quot; </li></ul><ul><li>Poverty, humiliation, religious alienation, and estrangement from his father, drove his imagination </li></ul><ul><li>Semi-autobiographical novel, Go Tell it On The Mountain describes the struggles in his relationship with Richard Wright, and his step-father </li></ul>James Baldwin &quot;the art of confession&quot;
  11. 11. &quot;An attempt to be loved&quot; Baldwin admitted that his writing was an escape to another world and an attempt to find love. His passage to that other world was limited by his experiences of racism and homophobia. He was known for his attacks on protest fiction which secured his place as a major American writer. He was called the &quot;conscience of the nation&quot; criticizing failed democracy.
  12. 12. <ul><li>Poetry of this period combined themes of protest with &quot;folksy narrative&quot; devices </li></ul><ul><li>&quot;A Street in Bronzeville&quot; - Gwendolyn Brooks focused on poor blacks in ghetto streets with intimate detail </li></ul><ul><li>Embraced global realities of WWII and spreading shadows of facism </li></ul>Poetry
  13. 13. <ul><li>Moved to Chicago at early age </li></ul><ul><li>Poor but supportive, warm family life </li></ul><ul><li>Met Langston Hughes who encouraged her to read and write modern poetry </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote poetry column for Chicago paper </li></ul><ul><li>First book of poetry &quot;A Street in Bronzeville&quot; brought instant acclaim (1945) </li></ul><ul><li>First African American to win Pulitzer Prize (1950) </li></ul><ul><li>Used some elements of &quot;protest&quot; but mostly concerned with aesthetic style </li></ul><ul><li>Unforgettable characters, describing urban life </li></ul>Gwendolyn Brooks 1917 - 2000
  14. 14. <ul><li>Demonstrated technical confidence using traditional forms (sonnets, lyrics, ballads) </li></ul><ul><li>Attention to the art of writing- form and technical craftsmanship </li></ul><ul><li>Highly intellectualized and academic </li></ul><ul><li>Willing to challenge traditional conventions </li></ul><ul><li>Tried to make poetry accessible to all </li></ul>Gwendolyn Brooks and Modernism
  15. 15. <ul><li>Born in Chicago -parents were activists and intellectuals </li></ul><ul><li>Moved to New York in 1950 and met many famous and influential writers -- Langston Hughes, W.E.B Dubois </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote play A Raisin in the Sun in 1959 taking its title from Langston Hughes poem and inspired from a segregation issue her family dealt with in Chicago </li></ul><ul><li>Wrote the first play by a black woman to be produced on Broadway- longest running play up to that time </li></ul><ul><li>Explored African roots of African-American experiences </li></ul><ul><li>Used a liberal standpoint and promoted integration, women's rights and civil rights </li></ul><ul><li>Died of cancer at 35 </li></ul>Lorraine Hansberry 1930 - 1965

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