By Claude McKay
Claude McKay (1889–1948) used to be 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 stream of African American paintings, tradition, and intellectualism among international conflict I and the good melancholy. yet his dating to the flow used to be advanced. actually absent from Harlem in the course of that interval, he committed so much of his time to touring via Europe, Russia, and Africa throughout the Twenties and Thirties. His lively participation in Communist teams and the unconventional Left additionally inspired definite reviews on race and sophistication that strained his dating to the Harlem Renaissance and its black intelligentsia. In his 1937 autobiography, A good distance from Home, McKay explains what it potential 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 severe creation by way of Gene Andrew Jarrett, this ebook will problem readers to reconsider McKay’s articulation of id, paintings, race, and politics and situate those themes when it comes to his oeuvre and his literary contemporaries among the area wars.
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Survival of the ﬁttest indeed! What would become of the better-class litter if they were not sheltered and protected from birth? ” Becoming less violently emphatic, Frank Harris wondered if Mr. Jekyll would be willing to furnish a copy of the Herbert Spencer letter. I said I had no idea whether he would, but that I was willing to sound him. And I pointed out again that at the time when Mr. Jekyll showed me the letter he really thought more of Herbert Spencer’s sending him a private and courteous reply than of the importance of the mistake that he had discovered.
This prompted him to say that he was well acquainted with T. P. O’Connor, whom he described as a successful Irishman whom the English liked because he never possessed an idea. There was also a letter from Lord Stamfordham, the private secretary of King George, to Mr. Jekyll about my book, Mr. Jekyll and Lord Stamfordham had been friends from their youth and Mr. Jekyll had told me that he was trying to get a copy of Songs of Jamaica on the King’s table. He said that even though the book was not read, if it were mentioned in a London drawing-room of consequence and reviewed by society, it might have a sale as a curiosity!
I am sure you will write prose some day. Poetry comes ﬁrst; prose follows with maturity. And this is an age of prose and not of poetry. Poetry was the unique literary expression of the feudal and semi-feudal age: the romantic periods. But this is the great machine age, inventions upon inventions bringing a thousand new forces and objectives into life. Language is loosening and breaking up under the pressure of new ideas and words. It requires the ﬂexibility of prose to express this age. “Now, tell me frankly,” he said, turning the pages of my scrapbook, “what was the real underlying urge that forced you to come to America, after you had achieved a local success in your home?