Эссе: The Harlem Renaissance and the Federal Writers' Project Brown, Hurston, and the Proletarian Aesthetic


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Английский язык
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Эссе
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12

... They believed that Negro culture did not need to be uplifted but rather should be accepted. True racial and psychological health lay in rejecting bourgeois values and embracing the beliefs and strategies that Negro folk had employed in their self-preservation efforts throughout slavery and Reconstruction. Du Bois took the uplift position. He declares in his 1926 essay "Criteria of Negro Art" that "all Art is propaganda and ever must be."27 As such, he exposes the propagandistic nature of plantation literature and charges Negro writers with the high purpose of using their art as he does: "for gaining the right of black folk to love and enjoy" (328). In his critical works, Du Bois celebrates Negro folk culture and advocates its honest depiction; however, he takes a very conservative stance with regard to the literary representation of black life. Du Bois's reviews of Negro fiction of the period contrasts the views he espouses in his criticism. For example, in "Negro Art," he supports an open and honest representation of Negro life: With a vast wealth of human material about us, our own writers and artists fear to paint the truth lest they criticize their own and be in turn criticized for it. They fail to see the Eternal Beauty that shines through all Truth, and try to portray a world of stilted artificial black folk such as never were on land or sea.(310) In contrast, Du Bois's review of Claude McKay's Home to Harlem suggests that too much "Truth" results not in "Eternal Beauty," but in "filth." He accuses the young writer of catering to the "prurient demand on the part of white folk for a portrayal in Negroes of that utter licentiousness which conventional civilization holds white folks from enjoying." Further, he charges, McKay "used every art and emphasis to paint drunkenness, fighting, lascivious sexual promiscuity and utter absence of restraint in as bold and as bright colors as he can." In the same review, Du Bois praises Nella Larsen for depicting a Negro character "on whom "race" sits negligibly and Life is always first and its wandering path is but darkened, not obliterated by the shadow of the Veil." By suggesting that the best Negro writing eschews the "dirty" aspects of life and treats the "Veil" of blackness as a minor obstacle in Negro existence, Du Bois is asserting a sanitized view of black folk.  ...