Jean Toomer (2656 words)

Mark Whalan (University of Oregon)
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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 …

Citation: Whalan, Mark. "Jean Toomer". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 18 August 2009 [, accessed 21 October 2020.]

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