Jean Toomer, Sherwood Anderson and the complexity of black modern consciousness
Raczynski, Kevin Robert
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Jean Toomer and Sherwood Anderson exchanged letters for approximately two years, between 1922 and 1924. While both writers examined the effects that burgeoning American industrialism had upon humanity, Anderson, like many of his white contemporaries, insisted upon a vision of the American south as a pastoral environment free from machine age neuroses; moreover, Anderson felt that blacks living in the south were innocent primitives who did not experience the same psychological problems as those in the materialistic north. Anderson’s position on the south and blacks comes through in his correspondence with Toomer. Based on this dialogue, it is clear that Anderson took from Cane only what he wanted to see and ignored the fact that many of Toomer’s characters suffer the influence of industrialism that had made its way south. This thesis explores Anderson’s misunderstanding of Toomer’s book.