In Search of Nella Larsen by George Hutchinson
By Emma Ward | On April 10, 2017 | Comments (0)
George Hutchinson’s biography, In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line (2006) delves into Larsen’s experience as a mixed-race woman in a society obsessed with identity. This factor weighed in on Larsen’s unique perspective on the world, showing up as themes in her two novels, Quicksand (1928) and Passing (1929). Hutchinson pays homage to Nella Larsen‘s influence in the world of African-American art; namely the era of the Harlem Renaissance as she progressed as a writer despite the boundaries of race.
Reviews of the biography provide readers with constructive criticism to consider throughout the chapters of the literary world’s third attempt to bring justice to Larsen’s life work. It is important to notice that while Hutchinson’s accounts of Larsen’s journey are at times in depth, there are still details that have not been surfaced which potentially can provide insight necessary to understand her position in middle-class America during the 20th century.
Hutchinson highlights previous writers’ tendency to pathologize Nella Larsen’s identity along the lines of the popular trope of the “tragic mulatto.” She was studied with the perspective of an outsider, trapped in the internal conflict created by the pressure to fit in with both black and white communities.
You might also like: Insightful Quotes from Passing by Nella Larsen
Preserving Larsen’s Legacy
While In Search of Nella Larsen would benefit from the publishing of a revised seconnd edition, the biography has updated previous notions of Larsen’s legacy, providing readers with a solid overview and a motivation for continuing the search for Nella Larsen.
More about In Search of Nella Larsen
- In Search of Nella Larsen: A Biography of the Color Line – Harvard University Press
- Book review by University of Richmond Scholarship Repository
- Book review on JSTOR
- In Search of Nella Larsen on Amazon
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