By Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
Dorothy West is healthier referred to as one of many youngest writers excited by the Harlem Renaissance. hence, her paintings is learn as a fabricated from the city aesthetics of this creative circulate. yet West used to be additionally in detail rooted in a really varied milieu—Oak Bluffs, an particular retreat for African american citizens on Martha’s winery. She performed an indispensable function within the improvement and renovation of that group. within the years among publishing her novels, 1948’s The residing is Easy and the 1995 bestseller The Wedding, she labored as a columnist for the winery Gazette.
Dorothy West’s Paradise captures the scope of the author’s lengthy existence and occupation, studying it along the original cultural geography of Oak Bluffs and its historical past as an elite African American enclave—a position that West expected either as a separatist safe haven and as an area for interracial touch. a vital ebook for either lovers of West’s fiction and scholars of race, type, and American women’s lives, Dorothy West’s Paradise deals an intimate biography of a huge writer and a privileged glimpse into the society that formed her work.
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Extra info for Dorothy West's Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color
All one summer the Bostonians saw it coming like a wave they could not roll back. It came the next summer. ” —Dorothy West, “Fond Memories of a Black Childhood” The title of my biography intentionally evokes Toni Morrison’s novel Paradise: a book that probes the viability of a radically exclusionary black nationalist enclave. 1 Incidentally, Morrison published Paradise in 1998, three years after The Wedding (1995). Although both novels were published in the midst of debates around multiculturalism, this timing is important because the novels’ “present times” return to that post–civil rights moment when unprecedented numbers of blacks were joining the middle class.
The constitution of the Vineyard enclave is so unusual because early Bostonians and other African Americans who settled there seemed to be ﬂying to what would become a black, utopic space. Subsequently, the post–civil rights resi- A “LEGEND OF OAK BLUFFS” 35 dents continued to arrive in a kind of second (temporary in the case of summer residents) ﬂight from predominantly white neighborhoods. The visionaries who bought property and opened guest houses at the turn of the century followed a version of Levesque’s middle way to create a hybrid culture that existed alongside mainstream resort settlements.
In Transcending the Talented Tenth, Joy James shows that despite Du Bois’s eventual repudiation of the talented tenth theory of racial uplift, black intellectuals maintain a symbolic investment in the ﬂawed notion that a privileged few can save the majority of African Americans. That symbolic investment is evident in Lawrence Otis Graham’s biography of Blanche K. Bruce, The Senator and the Socialite: The True Story of American’s First Black Dynasty. Graham traces the Bruce family’s rise to social and political prominence.