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Jean Toomer - Cane

Jean Toomer - Cane

Résumé   |   Fiche technique

Cane is a difficult book in many ways : it is apparently sui generis, a collage of various genres, from prose to theater ; it is one of the first books to have been written by a black author in the twentieth century and it roots the notion of black literature in black culture, while at the same time claiming the right to be provocatively avant-garde and confusing in its use of ellipsis, ellision, broken syntax, and at times, surrealistic imagery. The purpose of this reading is to show that indeterminacy and obscurity of Cane are deliberate, and meaningful. Without punning facilely on darkness, it seems clear that Toomer sought to create a difficult aesthetic to represent the black subject in American literature, in part to elevate the subject from the stereotyped and debasing representations which had been the general rule, and in part to mark out his own place in the American canon. The challenge of reading Cane is to accept that it is a work bursting, like Toomer himself, with unresolved contradictions, but that this tension is precisely the source of its seduction, and ambivalent sweetness.

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