The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen: Passing, Quicksand, and The Stories
In The Complete Fiction of Nella Larsen , whose career flamed brightly but briefly in the 1920s, we rediscover one of the most gifted writers of the Harlem Renaissance. Nella Larsen's subject is the struggle of sensitive, spirited heroines to find a place for themselves in a hostile world. Passing is the story of a light-skinned beauty who, after spending years passing for white, finds herself dangerously drawn to an old friend's Harlem neighborhood. In Quicksand , a restless young mulatto tries desperately to find a comfortable place in a world in which she sees herself as a perpetual outsider. Race and marriage offer few securities here or in the other stories in a collection that is compellingly readable, rich in psychological complexity, and imbued with a sense of place that brings Harlem vibrantly to life. From the Trade Paperback edition.
Complete fiction-- all too slight for the quality of her voice.
By frumiousb "frumiousb" - July 16, 2006
This little book represents the complete literary output of Nella Larsen, the great Harlem Renaissance writer. It is impossible to read without the sense of a voice that went quiet too soon. These are sophisticated works, full of issues about anger and identity. In the longer pieces it is frustratingly tangible how great she could have been had she been able to develop a larger body of work.
The pieces included in this work are:
"The Wrong Man" and "Freedom"-- these are two sensational short stories that Larsen published in women's magazines at the beginning of her writing career. If I have a quarrel with this collection, I have a quarrel with the fact that Larson (the editor) chose to put these stories first. While in some ways I understand it, they are so much weaker than the rest of her work that they do not create the right beginning for the book.
"Sanctuary" is a brilliant and powerful short story about a man hiding from the law. This story marked... read more
Larsen speaks to those who've felt they never really fit in
By D. Goodpasture - December 20, 2006
This volume contains two novellas, Passing and Quicksand. I would recommend reading the introduction afterwards because it might spoil the stories. The two female protagonists in her stories are loosely autobiographical. Larson's mother was from Denmark and her father was Caribbean or African-American. Both protagonists are bi-racial women living during the Harlem Renaissance period and struggling to fit into segregated society.
I liked Quicksand better. Helga Crane also has a Danish mother and African-American father. As the story opens young Helga Crane is a teacher at a very strict school in an ultra-conservative small southern US city. She is lonely and isolated and far too intelligent for her environment. She finally makes the break and moves to New York City. After a long struggle to fit in she moves to Copenhagen. She is taken in by her mother's family. Instead of finding the love and acceptance she craves she is treated condescendingly like some exotic pet. I don't... read more
Passing was a great read !!!!!
By Keith Pricer - March 20, 2003
Passing, written by Nella Larson, portrays the thoughts and feelings of a black woman dealing with inter-racial issues during the early twentieth century. The main character Irene Redfield, who has led a semi pleasant life with her husband and child finds herself dealing with issues brought upon by her past childhood friend Claire. Claire creates an intense and unstable environment for Irene and her family throughout most of the story. Towards the end a dramatic and suspenseful moment leaves the reader to create an ending in itself. I enjoyed Passing and found it to be an interesting book in relation to the early Harlem Renaissance years.
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