- Cane (novel)
"Cane" is a 1923
novelby noted Harlem Renaissancefigure and author Jean Toomer. The novel is structured as a series of vignettes revolving around the origins and experiences of African Americansin the United States. The vignettes alternate in structure between narrative prose, poetry, and play-like passages of dialogue. As a result, the novel has been classified as a composite novelor as a short story cycle. Though some characters and situations recur between vignettes, the vignettes are mostly freestanding, tied to the other vignettes thematically and contextually more than through specific plot details.
The ambitious, nontraditional structure of the novel - and its later impact on future generations of writers - have helped "Cane" gain status as a classic of High Modernism. [(As of March 2008, there were over 100 scholarly articles on the book at the
MLADatabase.)] Several of the vignettes have been excerpted or anthologized in literary collections, perhaps most famously the poetic passage "Harvest Song", included in several Norton anthologies. The poem opens with the line "I am a reaper whose muscles set at sundown"."
The novel inspired the
Gil Scott-Heronsong "Cane", in which he sings about two main characters of the novel: Karintha and Becky.
[http://www.arionpress.comcatalog/059.htm Arion Press] published an edition of "Cane" in 2000 with woodblock prints by Martin Puryear and an afterword by Leon Litwack.
Critical Studies (since 2000)
as of March 2008:
C. L. R. James, Claude McKay, Nella Larsen, Jean Toomer: The 'Black Atlantic' and the Modernist Novel By: Snaith, Anna. IN: Shiach, "The Cambridge Companion to the Modernist Novel." Cambridge, England: Cambridge UP; 2007. pp. 206-23
#"Cane": Jean Toomer's Gothic Black Modernism By: Lamothe, Daphne. IN: Anolik and Howard, "The Gothic Other: Racial and Social Constructions in the Literary Imagination." Jefferson, NC: McFarland; 2004. pp. 54-71
#Jean Toomer's Cane By: Petesch, Donald. pp. 91-96 IN: Iftekharrudin, Boyden, Longo, and Rohrberger, "
PostmodernApproaches to the Short Story." Westport, CT: Praeger; 2003. xi, 156 pp. (book article)
Waldo Frank, Jean Toomer, and the Critique of Racial Voyeurism By: Terris, Daniel. IN: Hathaway, Heather (ed.); Jarab, Josef (ed. and introd.); Melnick, Jeffrey (ed.); Race and the Modern Artist. Oxford, England: Oxford UP; 2003. pp. 92-114
W. E. B. Du Bois's 'Of the Coming of John,' Toomer's 'Kabnis,' and the Dilemma of Self-Representation By: Fontenot, Chester J., Jr.. IN: Hubbard, "The Souls of Black Folk One Hundred Years Later."' Columbia, MO: U of Missouri P; 2003. pp. 130-60
#The Enslaving Power of Folksong in Jean Toomer's "Cane" By: Fahy, Thomas. IN: Meyer, "Literature and Music." Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi; 2002. pp. 47-63
#Interculturalism in Literature, the Visual and Performing Arts during the Harlem Renaissance By: Lemke, Sieglinde. IN: Martín Flores and von Son, "Double Crossings/EntreCruzamientos." (Fair Haven, NJ): Nuevo Espacio; 2001. pp. 111-21
#Divergent Paths to the South: Echoes of "Cane" in "Mama Day" By: Wardi, Anissa J.. IN: Stave, "
Gloria Naylor: Strategy and Technique, Magic and Myth." Newark, DE; London, England: U of Delaware P; Associated UP; 2001. pp. 44-76
#Jean Toomer's "Cane," Modernization, and the Spectral Folk By: Nicholls, David G.. IN: Scandura, and Thurston, "Modernism, Inc.: Body, Memory, Capital." New York, NY: New York UP; 2001. pp. 151-70
#No Free Gifts: Toomer's 'Fern' and the Harlem Renaissance By: Boelhower, William. IN: Fabre and Feith, "Temples for Tomorrow: Looking Back at the Harlem Renaissance." Bloomington, IN: Indiana UP; 2001. pp. 193-209
#Black and Blue: The Female Body of Blues Writing in Jean Toomer, Toni Morrison, and Gayl Jones By: Boutry, Katherine. IN: Simawe, "Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to Toni Morrison." New York, NY: Garland; 2000. pp. 91-118
#The (Re)Construction of an American Cultural Identity in Literary Modernism By: Ickstadt, Heinz. IN: Hagenbüchle, Raab, and Messmer, "Negotiations of America's National Identity, II." Tübingen, Germany: Stauffenburg; 2000. pp. 206-28
Articles on "Cane" in the collection "Jean Toomer and the Harlem Renaissance"
(Ed. Geneviève Fabre and Michel Feith, New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers UP; 2001.)
#Tight-Lipped 'Oracle': Around and Beyond Cane By: Fabre, Geneviève. pp. 1-17
#Jean Toomer's Cane: Modernism and Race in Interwar America By: Sollors, Werner. pp. 18-37
#Identity in Motion: Placing Cane By: Hutchinson, George. pp. 38-56
#The Poetics of Passing in Jean Toomer's Cane By: Grandjeat, Yves-Charles. pp. 57-67
#'The Waters of My Heart': Myth and Belonging in Jean Toomer's Cane By: Clary, Françoise. pp. 68-83
#Feeding the Soul with Words: Preaching and Dreaming in Cane By: Coquet, Cécile. pp. 84-95
#'Karintha': A Textual Analysis By: Michlin, Monica. pp. 96-108
#Dramatic and Musical Structures in 'Harvest Song' and 'Kabnis': Toomer's Cane and the Harlem Renaissance By: Fabre, Geneviève. pp. 109-27
#Race and the Visual Arts in the Works of Jean Toomer and Georgia O'Keeffe By: Nadell, Martha Jane. pp. 142-61
#Jean Toomer and Horace Liveright: Or, A New Negro Gets 'into the Swing of It' By: Soto, Michael. pp. 162-87
#Building the New Race: Jean Toomer's Eugenic Aesthetic By: Williams, Diana I.. pp. 188-201
#The Reception of Cane in France By: Fabre, Michel. pp. 202-14
#'Adventuring through the Pieces of a Still Unorganized Mosaic': Reading Jean Toomer's Collage Aesthetic in "Cane" By: Farebrother, Rachel; "Journal of American Studies," 2006 Dec; 40 (3): 503-21.
#Stillborns, Orphans, and Self-Proclaimed Virgins: Packaging and Policing the Rural Women of "Cane" By: Baldanzi, Jessica Hays; "Genders," 2005; 42: 39 paragraphs.
#'Like a Violin for the Wind to Play': Lyrical Approaches to Lynching by Hughes, Du Bois, and Toomer By: Banks, Kimberly; "African American Review," 2004 Fall; 38 (3): 451-65.
#'Taking Myself in Hand': Jean Toomer and Physical Culture By: Whalan, Mark; "Modernism/Modernity," 2003 Nov; 10 (4): 597-615.
#Jean Toomer's Eternal South By: Ramsey, William M.; "Southern Literary Journal," 2003 Fall; 36 (1): 74-89.
#Blood-Lines That Waver South:
Hybridity, the 'South,' and American Bodies By: Hedrick, Tace; "Southern Quarterly: A Journal of the Arts in the South," 2003 Fall; 42 (1): 39-52.
#The Race Question and the 'Question of the Home': Revisiting the Lynching Plot in Jean Toomer's "Cane" By: Edmunds, Susan; "American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography," 2003 Mar; 75 (1): 141-68.
#Jean Toomer, Technology, and Race By: Whalan, Mark; "Journal of American Studies," 2002 Dec; 36 (3): 459-72.
#'Been Shapin Words T Fit M Soul': "Cane", Language, and Social Change By: Battenfeld, Mary; "Callaloo: A Journal of African-American and African Arts and Letters," 2002 Fall; 25 (4): 1238-49.
#Macunaíma e Cane: Sociedades Multi-raciais além do Modernismo no Brasil e nos Estados Unidos By: Da-Luz-Moreira, Paulo; "Tinta," 2001 Fall; 5: 75-90.
#Jean Toomer and
Kenneth Burkeand the Persistence of the Past By: Scruggs, Charles; "American Literary History," 2001 Spring; 13 (1): 41-66.
#Recalcitrant, Revered, and Reviled: Women in Jean Toomer's Short Story Cycle, "Cane" By: Shigley, Sally Bishop; "Short Story," 2001 Spring; 9 (1): 88-98.
#'I Am I': Jean Toomer's Vision beyond "Cane" By: Rand, Lizabeth A.; "CLA Journal," 2000 Sept; 44 (1): 43-64.
#Jean Toomer and
Okot p'Bitekin Alice Walker's "In Search of Our Mothers' Gardens" By: Fike, Matthew A.; " MELUS", 2000 Fall-Winter; 25 (3-4): 141-60.
#Jean Toomer's "Cane": Self as Montage and the Drive toward Integration By: Peckham, Joel B.; "American Literature: A Journal of Literary History, Criticism, and Bibliography," 2000 June; 72 (2): 275-90.
#Literature and Lynching: Identity in Jean Toomer's "Cane" By: Webb, Jeff; "ELH," 2000 Spring; 67 (1): 205-28.
#Jean Toomer's "Cane" as a Swan Song By: Bus, Heiner; "Journal of American Studies of Turkey," 2000 Spring; 11: 21-29.
#"Cane", Race, and 'Neither/Norism' By: Harmon, Charles; "Southern Literary Journal," 2000 Spring; 32 (2): 90-101.
#The Reluctant Witness: What Jean Toomer Remembered from "
Winesburg, Ohio" By: Scruggs, Charles; "Studies in American Fiction," 2000 Spring; 28 (1): 77-100.
#To 'Flash White Light from Ebony': The Problem of Modernism in Jean Toomer's "Cane" By: Kodat, Catherine Gunther; "Twentieth Century Literature: A Scholarly and Critical Journal," 2000 Spring; 46 (1): 1-19.
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