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Teaching Jean Toomer’s 1923 Cane

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Chezia Thompson Cager

Cane one of the major works of the Harlem Renaissance and Jean Toomer’s imagist masterpiece, is now a part of the canon in Afro-American literature. Teaching Jean Toomer’s 1923 Cane is a unique literary tool that explores the brilliance and far-sighted vision of Toomer, allowing Cane to be taught holistically as a discovery process, using the blues motif and the poetic essay. This book’s text and figures ground a discussion of Cane’s enigmatic and figurative language, connecting the Harlem Renaissance to the Negritude Movement and to later Afro-centric literary movements. This book also reviews P.B.S. Pinchback’s legacy as a non-Negro, able to pass easily in white society, the influence of Ouspensky, H. L Mencken’s critical work, The Paris Brotherhood, and «Saccaharum officinarum-G.» Like the lunar arcs dividing Cane, the book works as an instructional map. The pictures from the first complete production also tell a remarkable story.