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Jean Toomer's Years with Gurdjieff: Portrait of an Artist, 1923-1936

Rudolph Byrd

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ISBN 10: 0820337773 / ISBN 13: 9780820337777
Published by University of Georgia Press, 2010
New Condition: New Soft cover
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Bibliographic Details

Title: Jean Toomer's Years with Gurdjieff: Portrait...

Publisher: University of Georgia Press

Publication Date: 2010

Binding: Paperback

Book Condition:New

About this title

Synopsis:

Jean Toomer (1894–1967) earned his place in American literary history with Cane (1923), a brilliant modernist collage of fiction, poetry, and drama about black life in rural Georgia and the urban North. Although Toomer continued to write prodigiously, his work went largely unpublished as he turned away from an exploration of his African American roots he had employed so powerfully in Cane. Rudolph P. Byrd examines the central reason behind Toomer’s literary decline: his enthusiasm for the theories of George Gurdjieff, a contemporary Russian psychologist, philosopher, and mystic. As Toomer’s work degenerated into propaganda for Gurdjieff’s theories on human development and spiritual reforms, publishers turned away. Yet, Byrd makes clear that the works Toomer wrote after 1923 do not represent the total break from his earlier concerns that critics have generally assumed. Examining both Cane and the body of writings Toomer produced after it, Byrd finds a distinct thematic unity in the Toomer canon―a consistent, optimistic faith in human possibility and wholeness.

About the Author:

Rudolph P. Byrd is the Goodrich C. White Professor of American Studies at Emory University. He is the founder and director of Emory’s James Weldon Johnson Institute and is founding co-chair of the Alice Walker Literary Society. He is author or editor of many books including Charles Johnson’s Novels: Writing the American Palimpsest and I Am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writings of Audre Lorde.

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