Nella Larsen, Novelist of the Harlem Renaissance
A Woman's Life Unveiled
496 Pages / 6.00 x 9.00 x 1.10 in / 12 halftones
- Paperback /
- 9780807120705 /
- Published: May 1996
Nella Larsen (1891–1964) is recognized as one of the most influential, and certainly one of the most enigmatic, writers of the Harlem Renaissance. With the instant success of her two novels, Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929), she became a bright light in New York’s literary firmament. But her meteoric rise was followed by a surprising fall: In 1930 she was accused of plagiarizing a short story, and after 1933 she disappeared from both the literary and African-American worlds of New York. She lived the rest of her life—more than three decades—out of the public eye, working primarily as a nurse. In a remarkable achievement, Thadious Davis has penetrated the fog of mystery that has surrounded Larsen to present a detailed and fascinating account of the life and work of this gifted, determined, yet vulnerable artist.
In addition to unraveling the details of Larsen’s personal life, Davis deftly situates the writer within the broader politics and aesthetics of the Harlem Renaissance and analyzes her life and work in terms of the current literature on race and gender. This book, with the prodigious amount of new material and insights that Davis provides, is a landmark in African-American literary history and criticism.
This is an astute, rigorous, and deeply compassionate biography, a real heartbreaker, and an invaluable chapter in the history of African Americans. (Starred Review)
Davis rescues an African-American writer from neglect in an outstanding, masterfully researched study that also provides a vivid picture of life in Harlem during the 1920s. (Starred Review)