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"Women Of The Harlem Renaissance" By Cheryl A. Wall

1286 words - 5 pages

Cheryl A. Wall wrote the book, "Women of the Harlem Renaissance", which was published by The Indiana University Press in 1995. Wall's book follows the lives and careers of three of the most famous and influential women writers of the Harlem Renaissance. The book allows the reader to experience what life was like for the African American woman in the 1920's. The life of a female writer during the Harlem Renaissance was vastly different from that of a male African American writer. African American women in the 1920's struggled with issues of individuality, sought forms that could incorporate the actuality of their experience as black women, and fought to regulate their own voices. In the book, Women of the Harlem Renaissance, Cheryl A. Wall contends that the odyssey for most black women writers of the Renaissance suggests the sense of opportunity, frustration, and determination.Women of the Harlem Renaissance focuses on black women writers in the 1920's. The book explains the challenges that they faced and the amazing contributions they made to literature. The Harlem Renaissance began in 1920 and lasted approximately ten years. Thousands of rural southern blacks migrated to the cities of the North. This brought forth a new consciousness and sense of pride among African American people. Alain Locke, a foremost figure in the Harlem Renaissance published an essay in 1925 called "The New Negro." His essay claims that the sexist and racist stereotypes of previous times no longer existed. Marita Bonner wrote the essay "On Being Young-A Woman-and Colored" the same year as Locke, but her viewpoint is much less optimistic. Bonner's essay reveals the stereotypes perpetrated by black Americans about black Americans are still prevalent and continue to hold women back.Wall maintains that the notion that Harlem was the principal setting for the Renaissance is absolutely false. She argues that Washington D.C. was equally important. She also states that the only significant literary contributions came in the decade of the twenties denies many great contributors their fair praises. Wall feels the works of women of the Renaissance were underrated by both the critics of the time and of the future.Jessie Redmon Fauset is the first writer to be examined by Wall. Fauset is one of the most misunderstood figures of the Renaissance. Wall's work shows her to have been an extremely influential literary editor, nurturer of young talent, important novelist, essayist, and translator. She wrote for W.E.B Du Bois's The Crisis, undeniably the most influential periodical of the time. Wall is not sycophantic in her admiration of Fauset; however. She explains that Fauset's novels demonstrate her watchfulness and class awareness which limited her ability to create full, multifaceted characters that are from a different class than she. Wall explains that Fauset could not avoid the inconsistencies of her own position as a black woman and her own innate sensibilities passed down from...

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