In The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen, whose career flamed brightly but briefly in the 1920s, we rediscover one of the most gifted writers of the Harlem Renaissance.
Nella Larsen's subject is the struggle of sensitive, spirited heroines to find a place for themselves in a hostile world. Passing is the story of a light-skinned beauty who, after spending years passing for white, finds herself dangerously drawn to an old friend's Harlem neighborhood. In Quicksand, a restless young mulatto tries desperately to find a comfortable place in a world in which she sees herself as a perpetual outsider. Race and marriage offer few securities here or in the other stories in a collection that is compellingly readable, rich in psychological complexity, and imbued with a sense of place that brings Harlem vibrantly to life.
In PASSING, a light-skinned African American woman is married to a white man who is ignorant of her racial heritage. Her childhood friend, equally capable of "passing," has chosen to live her life as a black woman and deny the existence of racism. A chance meeting forces both women to confront truths about themselves. First published in 1929, this novel has become a minor classic about the complexity of race relations in America. In QUICKSAND, Helga Crane, a mulatto, teaches at a black college in the South, where she feels trapped by a drabness that she feels conflicts with the true spirit of her race. When she returns to Chicago, her hometown, she is unable to find work in the kinds of jobs offered to black women, and she ends up in New York City as secretary to a wealthy black woman in Harlem. Again failing to achieve fulfillment, she visits family members in Denmark--but finds herself, at the end of the book, heading back to her true roots once again. QUICKSAND, Larsen's first novel, was published in 1928. This volume also includes Larsen's short fiction.
- Fiction + Literature Genres, Juvenile Fiction
- Literary, People + Places / General, People + Places / Other
- November 1, 2001
- November 1, 2001
- Nella Larsen