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Passing ... A Perspective in Two Novels

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  • multiracialbookclub
    Passing ... A Perspective in Two Novels [Passing] Passing : A Novel -- by Nella Larsen (Publisher description) First published to critical acclaim in 1929,
    Message 1 of 4 , Dec 3, 2011

      Passing ... A Perspective in Two Novels

      Passing : A Novel 

      -- by Nella Larsen (Publisher description)

      First published to critical acclaim in 
      1929, Passing firmly established Nella 
      Larsen's prominence among women 
      writers of the Harlem Renaissance. 

      The Modern Library is proud to present 
      Passing —an electrifying story 
      of two women who cross the 
      color line in 1920s  New York  … 

      Irene Redfield, the novel's protagonist, 
      is a woman with an enviable life. 

      She and her husband, Brian, 
      a prominent physician, share 
      a comfortable town house 
      with their sons. 

      Her work arranging charity balls that 
      gather [the] elite creates a sense of 
      purpose and respectability for Irene. 

      But her hold on this world begins 
      to slip the day she encounters 
      Clare Kendry, a childhood friend 
      with whom she had lost touch. 

      Clare—light-skinned, beautiful, and charming 
      — tells Irene how, after her father's death, 
      she left behind the "black"^^ neighborhood 
      of her adolescence and began "passing" 
      for `White'*, hiding her true `identity' 
      from everyone, including her 
      racist `White'* husband. 

      As Clare begins inserting herself into 
      Irene's life, Irene is thrown into a 
      panic, terrified of the consequences 
      of Clare's dangerous behavior. 

      And when Clare witnesses the 
      vibrancy and energy of the 
      community she left behind, 
      her burning desire to come 
      back threatens to shatter 
      her careful deception.

      Brilliantly plotted and elegantly written, 
      Passing offers a gripping psychological 
      portrait of emotional extremity. 

      The New York Times Book 
      Review called Larsen "adroit at 
      tracing the involved processes 
      of a mind divided against itself, 
      that fights between the 
      dictates of reason and desire." 

      The Saturday Review of Literature said, 
      "[Larsen] has produced a work so 
      fine, sensitive, and distinguished 
      that it rises above race categories 
      and becomes that rare 
      object, a good novel."

      Author Bio

      Nella Larsen was born in  Chicago  of 
      interracial parentage on April 13, 1891.

      She grew up in a
      primarily among people of 
      German and Scandinavian stock.

      Her first experience with an all-
      world occurred in 1909, when she 
      matriculated at the high school 
      division of  Fisk   University  in  Nashville .

      After studying at the  University  of  Copenhagen  for 
      two years, Larsen moved to  New York City  in 1912 
      … [i]n 1919 she married Elmer Samuel 
      Imes, a prominent 
      physicist, who introduced her to 
      Harlem 's literary and social elite.

      Larsen's first novel,'Quicksand'
      was published …  in 1928 .

      `Passing' was published in 1929.

      In 1930 Larsen became thefirst 
      African-American woman to 
      be awarded a Guggenheim 
      Fellowship in creative writing.

      She spent the last twenty years of her life 
      working as a nurse in  Manhattan  hospitals.

      Nella Larsen died in  New York City  on March 30, 1964.

      Source: http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9780375758133


      Passing : A Novel 

      -- by Patricia Jones (Publisher description)

      Like a glass of lemonade that is both sweet and tart, 
      writer Patricia Jones mixes up a refreshing blend 
      of deep emotion and raw truth, tempered 
      by a grounded dose of wisdom.

      To Lila Giles, the term "passing" refers to those 
      pale-hued folks who take advantage of their 
      creamy shade by crossing into the

      Descended from a long line of an elite  Baltimore  
      family awash with "high-colored" skin just right 
      for "passing", family lore told Lila that not one 
      of them would have thought to deny their 
      true selves and rich history in such a way.

      It is this sense of pride that bonds the Giles 
      family together -- a bond strongly enforced 
      by Lila's controlling stepmother Eulelie.

      But the delicate balance of this branch of the family 
      Eulelie has so carefully engineered is threatened 
      when Lila's brother decides to marry a 
      woman from an oh-so-very-wrong family.

      A proud though severe matriarch, Eulelie Giles 
      has ruled her four grown stepchildren with a 
      heavy self-righteousness that could break 
      the spirit of the most sound opponent, 
      let alone the nearly thirty-year-old Lila.

      Relentlessly loyal to her privileged world, Eulelie 
      has ingrained upon Lila and her three other 
      stepchildren the importance of distinguishing 
      between acceptable and unacceptable

      Despite her strident belief in an unyielding class 
      line, Eulelie has kept a secret about her own 
      past that manages to affect, in more ways 
      than a few, anyone who enters her life.

      As the wedding day draws closer, Lila begins 
      to look at her reality versus Eulelie's, and 
      what Lila finds leads to a confrontation 
      between stepmother and stepdaughter 
      that could finally shatter Eulelie's reign 
      over Lila and the family, but ultimately, 
      one that will lead Eulelie back to the truth.

      Filled with multi-dimensional characters and rich 
      with atmosphere, Passing is a story of tangled 
      family relationships the secrets, misunderstanding, 
      and deceptions that hold them together.




      **The term `Colored'** – as used here – is a reference to a 
      person who is of a `Multiracial' / `Mixed-Race `lineage that 
      also includes some part or amount of `Black / Negro' ancestry.

      ^^The term "black"^^ or "blacks"^^ – as used here – is a 
      reference to those `Multiracial' / `Mixed-Race' individuals 
      who were both of part-`Black / Negro' ancestry *and* who 
      *also*came to be referred to / categorized by the term 
      This categorization would have arisen either as a result of 
      the racist `One-Drop Rule' and / or as a result of  taking 
      on the socio-political `identification' that, since the late 
      1960's, has come to be referred to by the term 

      These terms 
      "black"^^ and / or "blacks"^^ – when in reference 
      to a socio-political "identification" -- were originally applied 
      largely as a way of describing the new socio-political mindset 
      that became popular in the late 1960s wherein many who 
      were of at least some-part `Black / Negro' lineage chose to 
      ------ openly support of the new pan-African,  
      anti-colonialist movement of the late 1960s; 
      ------ refuse to hold or see the their or another's 
      `Black / Negro' ancestral lineage as being "shameful"; 
      ------ and provide support for the whole idea of making 
      sure that equal rights would become granted to those 
      people who suffered discrimination due to having 
      `Black / Negro' ancestry in their familial, 
      ethnic, racial or even cultural lineage.

      As a result of the racist `One-Drop Rule' – the terms 
      "black"^^ and "blacks"^^ were broad-brushed applied to 
      entire people groupings (as a `political catch-phrase') 
      as instructed by the western media and politicians.

      The term `Black' – as used here – is in reference those 
      who are of `Black / Negro' lineage and who also have very 
      little to no* known or acknowledged non-`Black / Negro' ancestry.

      The "Racial"-Term `Black' is *not* the same as 
      the Socio-Political-`Identification' of 

      *The term `White'* – as used here – is a reference to a person who 
      has no known or acknowledged non-'White / Caucasian' ancestry.

      The terms `Pass' and `Passing'
       – as used here – is 
      reference to a person who hid, denied or pretended to 
      have no known non-White (and particular `Black / Negro') 
      ancestry and / or who would simply choose to 
      silent' on the whole matter and let strangers `draw their 
      own conclusions' based solely on their physical appearance.


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