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In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line

4.35 of 5 stars 4.35  ·  rating details  ·  34 ratings  ·  8 reviews
Nella Larsen (1891-1964) lived her life in the shadows of America's racial divide. She wrote about that life, was briefly celebrated in her time, and then was lost to later generations. This work exposes the truths and half-truths surrounding this central figure of modern literary studies.
Hardcover, 611 pages
Published May 30th 2006 by Belknap Press
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I really wish I could have met this woman. Born to a poor Danish immigrant mother and a West Indian father in the 19th century, she was destined to be very much on the outs with any culture she might lay claim to. She was not someone who could have "passed" as far as her appearance. Still, she was able to rise above many of her white colleagues in the nursing and librarian fields, not to mention write the novels she is best known for. She lived abroad for periods as a child and an adult, was ube ...more
Involving an exhaustive amount of research, Hutchinson puts previous biographical works about Larsen to shame, and shows them in no uncertain terms that some of their assumptions about this so-called mystery woman of the Harlem Renaissance are simply wrong. Larsen's is a story that is as fascinating (if not more so) than any of her books or stories, and Hutchinson tells her own story with great passion.

The third recent biographer to devote a major biographical study on Larsen (after Charles Lar
Nella Larsen, a noted writer from the Harlem Renaissance, led an interesting life that surpasses the lives of the characters she wrote about. In Hutchinson's biography of Larsen, he digs deep to unearth truths and dispel rumors, clearing a lot of falsities said about Mrs. Larsen. Her life was tragic but intriguing and her books were great.

Hutchinson also gives a very detailed thesis on the relation of race in America and how this impacted Larsen and other people with mixed race heritage. This ta
Nella Larsen was a fascinating woman -- on top of being a Black woman raised outside African American culture, she was involved in many momentous institutions during the early 20th century. A student at Fisk University, a nurse in New York City during the influenza epidemic of 1919 when so many public health policies were put into place, a teacher at the Tuskegee Institute, a librarian in NYPL system -- again when so many parts of modern public librarianship were initiated, a writer of the Harle ...more
This is a long, meticulously researched biography that I found fascinating. She was a unique character who lived in an amazing era. I found it tough going sometimes, and quite sad, but really recommend it.
Incredible. Just incredible. Reading Passing again after reading this book was an eye-opening experience as well.
Jan 03, 2011 Persia rated it 4 of 5 stars
Mar 01, 2008 Fatima marked it as to-read
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