Full Text

17. Ethnic Modernism

Rita Keresztesi


Subject Literature » American Literature

Period 1000 - 1999 » 1900-1999

Key-Topics ethnicity, modernism, novel and novella

DOI: 10.1111/b.9780631206873.2009.00020.x


Extract

Why did God make me an outcast and a stranger in mine own house? (W. E. B. Du Bois , The Souls of Black Folk) “Civilization's going to pieces,” broke out Tom violently. “I've gotten to be a terrible pessimist about things. Have you read ‘The Rise of the Colored Empires’ by this man Goddard?” “Why, no,” I answered, rather surprised by his tone . “Well, it's a fine book, and everybody ought to read it. The idea is if we don't look out the white race will be – will be utterly submerged. It's all scientific stuff; it's been proved.” (F. Scott Fitzgerald , The Great Gatsby) Strangely, the foreigner lives within us: he is the hidden force of our identity, the space that wrecks our abode, the time in which understanding and affinity founder. By recognizing him within ourselves, we are spared detesting him in himself. A symptom that precisely turns “we” into a problem, perhaps makes it impossible. The foreigner comes in when the consciousness of my differences arises, and he disappears when we all acknowledge ourselves as foreigners, unamenable to bonds and communities. ( Julia Kristeva , Strangers to Ourselves) Tom Buchanan's view of the nation's changing racial makeup in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby expresses the anxiety many felt during the early 1920s over the white race being overrun by the “colored” and immigrant masses. Similarly, advocates of literary high modernism have been ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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