Jean Toomer

(2656 words)
  • Mark Whalan (University of Oregon)

Jean Toomer was an American author now chiefly remembered for his book Cane (1923). This collection of poetry, prose and drama was among the most important early texts of the Harlem (or New Negro) Renaissance, and has increasingly been seen as one of the most insightful texts of early US modernism on the intersections of race, gender, class, and formal experimentalism. From 1924 Toomer was also a keen adherent of the Gurdjieff method of personal development, and devoted much of his adult life to training and writing about this system of spiritual and psychological being.

Toomer was born into a relatively wealthy middle-class, African American family in Washington D.C. His father, Nathan Toomer, abandoned the family …

Please log in to consult the article in its entirety. If you are a member (student of staff) of a subscribing institution (see List), you should be able to access the LE on campus directly (without the need to log in), and off-campus either via the institutional log in we offer, or via your institution's remote access facilities, or by creating a personal user account with your institutional email address. If you are not a member of a subscribing institution, you will need to purchase a personal subscription. For more information on how to subscribe as an individual user, please see under Individual Subcriptions.

Whalan, Mark. "Jean Toomer". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 August 2009
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]

Related Groups

  1. African American Fiction