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Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas$
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Jay Watson and James G. Thomas

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781496806345

Published to University Press of Mississippi: September 2017

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781496806345.001.0001

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date: 23 April 2018

The Street Ran through Cities: Faulkner and the Early African American Migration Narrative

The Street Ran through Cities: Faulkner and the Early African American Migration Narrative

Chapter:
(p.20) The Street Ran through Cities: Faulkner and the Early African American Migration Narrative
Source:
Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas
Author(s):

James Smethurst

Jay Watson

Publisher:
University Press of Mississippi
DOI:10.14325/mississippi/9781496806345.003.0002

For the most part, when the topic of Faulkner and African American literature is discussed, the intellectual conversation is primarily concerned with the undeniable influence of Faulkner’s fiction on black novelists. However, this chapter focuses on the major impact of the African American migration novel in the early Jim Crow era on Faulkner’s work, particularly Light in August and Absolom, Absolom! While the peripatetic, rootless, and often mixed-race characters of such novels by black authors as Pauline Hopkins’s Contending Forces, Paul Laurence Dunbar’s The Sport of the Gods, James Weldon Johnson’s The Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man, Jean Toomer’s Cane, and Nella Larsen’s Quicksand informs the creation of the protagonists/speakers of much modernist U.S. fiction and poetry; it is in Faulkner’s work, with possible exception of Gertrude Stein’s “Melanctha,” that one sees the clearest adaptation of the characters and cultural geography of the early black migration narrative.

Keywords:   African American Literature, Migration Narrative, Mixed-race characters, Jim Crow, U.S. Modernism

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