May 22, 2008

OUP Remembers Claude McKay and Langston Hughes

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Two African American literary giants died on the same day, nineteen years apart, Claude McKay, May 22, 1948 and Langston Hughes, on May 22, 1967. Both were poets, writers, and significant figures in the literary movement of the Harlem Renaissance.

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Richard said...

One of the students in my Borough of Manhattan Community College (at Brooklyn College) short story class, Dwight Knibbs, managed to find a rare copy of Claude McKay's 1932 short story collection Gingertown and did a terrific research/critical paper on it. The book is incredibly rare (it goes for $99 on Amazon) but the Brooklyn Public Library had a copy published by Harper. It's a beautiful and interesting book.

For example, Dwight wrote in his paper:

The stories that are seemingly based in Jamaica are mostly biographical. He had served some time in the police force hence, “When I Pounded the Pavement.” It gives a glimpse in the social hierarchy of colonial life, where the people in charge are always people of the white colonial master or being near white. This seemed to be the only story that was written in 1st person, the rest all in 3rd person. For me, reading these stories was very nostalgic. The mention of the fruits and flowers brought back the abundant presence of these fruits to mind and their juices running through my fingers. True to the sleepy nature of country life, these stories meandered in a sleepy quality. The narration was rather extensive. In some of them and so suffered from the perspective of dialogue. The last story “Little Sheik” seemed to be based on one his travels like the “Agricultural show” a real sense of plot seems to be missing.

Geoffrey Philp said...

Richard, McKay was an incredible writer and his writing always showed his deep love of the land and his connection with it.

Thank you for this.