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The Postwar African American NovelProtest and Discontent, 1945-1950$
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Stephanie Brown

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9781604739732

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604739732.001.0001

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date: 22 July 2018

William Gardner Smith and the Cosmopolitan War Novel

William Gardner Smith and the Cosmopolitan War Novel

(p.99) Chapter Four William Gardner Smith and the Cosmopolitan War Novel
The Postwar African American Novel

Stephanie Brown

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter focuses on William Gardner Smith, an African American writer who did not expect to write protest fiction at all. Like other young African American writers of the period, he resisted the burdensome obligation of following Wright’s blueprint. He struggled to reconcile his commitment to what he saw as universal themes with the raw materials for fiction with which his experiences had provided him. He initially determined that he would follow the model of best sellers such as The Foxes of Harrow and Willard Motley’s Knock on Any Door in which blacks were always only secondary characters. Smith viewed his approach as pragmatic and a logical consequence of his orientation toward canonical European and American writers.

Keywords:   protest fiction, William Gardner Smith, universal themes, Willard Motley, best sellers

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