Read PLUM BUN PA (Black Women Writer Series) by Jessie Redmon Fauset Free Online
Book Title: PLUM BUN PA (Black Women Writer Series)|
The author of the book: Jessie Redmon Fauset
ISBN 13: 9780807009093
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 398 KB
City - Country: No data
Loaded: 2683 times
Reader ratings: 5.2
Edition: Beacon Press
Date of issue: July 20th 1997
Read full description of the books:
What if Sister Carrie were black? ish? Harlem Renaissance author Jessie Redmon Fauset reminds me of no one more than Theodore Dreiser. Both are concerned with single women trying to make it on their own terms, and neither is particularly skilled at writing. Dreiser is better - more powerful in the end, less susceptible to Victorian plot twists, and less moralistic - but this is good.
Weird to say moralistic, given that Plum Bun advertises its lack of moral in the title, but the title is a lie: there are morals galore here, about pride in ancestry and the importance of family and proper behavior and what have you, and they're not subtle.
She began to see the conventions, the rules that govern life, in a new light; she realized suddenly that for all their granite-like coldness and precision they also represented fundamental facts; a sort of concentrated compendium of the art of living and therefore as much to be observed and respected as warm, vital impulses.
Maybe I should be comparing her to Jane Austen.
Passing, which is where a light-skinned black person decides to define herself as white, was of vivid interest to the Harlem Renaissance writers. It shows up in Nella Larsen's terrific Passing, the best treatment of it; it's also covered satirically in George Schuyler's Black No More, and awkwardly in Jean Toomer's actual life. We don't talk about it so much anymore. Both black and white people find it...what, gauche? I don't know. The last time I heard about passing was when Rachel Dolezal tried a reverse pass. (That's the woman who was head of the NAACP until her Caucasian parents released a statement like, hey, btw, let's make Thanksgiving awkward.) Given its frequent discussion a century ago, I would assume that many black people made this decision at some point previous, and now it's in the past, their families have been white for generations. Suck it racists, I guess?
We're still stuck on the idea that a drop of black blood makes one black, which is sortof weird and ugly. What if a person of mixed race, like Barack Obama, just declared that he was white? Why shouldn't he? The very definition of passing sucks.
Anyway, that's what Plum Bun is about. Fauset, who had siblings who could pass, is against it. Her protagonist, Angela Murray, (view spoiler)[learns over the course of the novel that she is happier acknowledging her African American ancestry. (hide spoiler)] This is all handled adequately well.
Plum Bun is at its best, though, describing loneliness. Here too there may be autobiographical elements: like Angela, Fauset moved alone to Harlem, and the poignancy of her description of loneliness in New York City feels very real. I loved these parts of the book. Loneliness! Loneliness such as that offered by the great, noisy city could never be imagined. To realize it one would have to experience it.
They're not enough to make me love the whole thing, which totters into Victorian melodrama at a certain point and then proceeds to drown in it. Angela's sister Virginia (view spoiler)[just happens to stumble heartbroken into Angela's crush Anthony's room, of all the rooms in the entire city, after being cut by Angela at the train station. In the end, everything gets tied up all too neatly with an almost literal bow, as Anthony arrives at Angela's door in Paris on Christmas Eve: "'There ought to be a tag on me somewhere,' he remarked apologetically, 'but anyhow Virginia and Matthew send me with their love.'" It's sweet, but come on now. (hide spoiler)]
E.B. White opens Here is New York with what could be the epigram to this book:
On any person who desires such queer prizes, New York will bestow the gift of loneliness and the gift of privacy.
Angela uses the privacy to reinvent herself, but she ends up realizing that you can't have one without the other. The book is about that choice: both or neither.
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Read information about the authorJessie Redmon Fauset was an American editor, poet, essayist and novelist.
Fauset was born in Fredericksville, an all-black hamlet in Camden County, New Jersey, also known as Free Haven (now incorporated into the borough of Lawnside, New Jersey). She was the daughter of Anna "Annie" Seamon and Redmon Fauset, a Presbyterian minister. Her mother died when she was still a young girl. Her father remarried Bella Huff (a white woman), and they had three children, including civil rights activist and folklorist Arthur Fauset (1899–1983).
Fauset attended Philadelphia High School for girls, and graduated as the only African American in her class. After high school Fauset graduated from Cornell University in 1905, and is believed to be the second black woman elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She later received her M.A. in French from the University of Pennsylvania. Fauset came to the NAACP's journal, The Crisis, in 1912. From 1919 to 1926 she served as the literary editor of The Crisis under W. E. B. Du Bois. Eventually 58 of her 77 published works first appeared in the journal's pages. She is the author of four novels, There Is Confusion (1924), Plum Bun (1928), The Chinaberry Tree: A Novel of American Life (1931), and Comedy, American Style (1933). She is an honorary member of Delta Sigma Theta.
Fauset worked as a schoolteacher for many years and retired from teaching in 1944. She died in 1961 from heart failure.
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