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Quicksand and Passing Paperback – 1 April 1986
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- Publisher : Rutgers University Press (1 April 1986)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 246 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0813511704
- ISBN-13 : 978-0813511702
- Reading age : 15 years and up
- Dimensions : 13.97 x 1.78 x 21.59 cm
- Customer Reviews:
About the Author
Deborah E. McDowell is professor of English at the University of Virginia.
Nellallitea "Nella" Larsen, born Nellie Walker (April 13, 1891 - March 30, 1964), was an American novelist of the Harlem Renaissance. The daughter of Peter Walker, a mulatto Afro-Caribbean immigrant from the West Indies and Marie Walker, née Hansen, a Danish immigrant, Larsen worked as both a nurse and a librarian. Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929) were her only novels, although she wrote some short stories. She earned some recognition during her lifetime, but there was a great revival of interest in her work in the latter part of the 20th Century, largely due to the publication of this edition.
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The author's writing style is amateurish and sounds like something straight out of a melodramatic novella by Harriet Beecher Stowe. So many adverbs, so many "deep" thoughts that just seem very forced, and a very lecturing tone that was just annoying. The writing style is so distracting that the story drowns in it. I expected this to be as progressive as Hemingway or Fitzgerald, but it's not at all. Cannot recommend this.
The story, to me is broadly about a young woman, Helga Crane's, search for happiness, contentment and a sense of belonging.
Passing is about two old friends, Irene and Claire, who are mixed parentage, but light skinned enough to 'pass' as white. Claire has taken this option, whilst Irene has not. On a hot summer’s day, the two women run into each other and Claire manoeuvres her way into Irene’s black middle-class life, bringing disastrous consequences.
Quicksand & Passing are both set in racially segregated America in the 1920's. They have complex and emotionally loaded plots with deep psychological and political undertones. The vocabulary and writing style reflect the period in which they were written, making them even more interesting and intriguing reads. Both novels are short, but pacy and allow the reader get a taste of some of the injustices, pain and destruction suffered by people of colour living under America’s Jim Crow laws.
My review is not for the book itself but for this particular edition by Profile Books that includes both Larsen novels in a single volume. On the face of it it should be deemed an advantage while in reality the book is written in such small print that you need a pair of glasses to read it if you do not have perfect eyesight as in my case. I wouldn't buy this edition again which is also very basic: no introduction and notes.