Infants of the Spring
In this satire which shows the role of black writers and artists during the American Renaissance of the 1920s, Wallace Thurman proved himself to be a black writer who suffered no fools of any color, a modern satirist who, as republication here shows, was very much ahead of his time. Thurman was a novelist, ghost writer, editor of two Harlem magazines, and a playwright. His satire, derived from close personal observation, was directed primarily at the Harlem or Negro Renaissance, which began in 1925. As John A. Williams points out in his Afterword to this new edition, Thurman and “nearly everyone with artistic aspirations came to New York then, black and white; those were the merging days of the Harlem Renaissance, the Lost Generation, and the Jazz Age—really one extended explosion of American literature, and there were influences passed between the groups.” The Renaissance flourished through 1929, then faded. Thurman’s satire came too late—1932, after its main target, the Harlem Renaissance, lay shrouded in the Great Depression woe that obscured or proclaimed frivolous all but proletarian art. Yet Infants of the Spring, stillborn then, lives today. By re-creating the bohemian lives of black artists of the 1920s, Thurman corrects the assumption that one of America’s most creative decades owes its energy to whites alone.
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