The Indignant Generation is the first narrative history of the neglected but essential period of African American literature between the Harlem Renaissance and the civil rights era. The years between these two indispensable epochs saw the communal rise of Richard Wright, Gwendolyn Brooks, Ralph Ellison, Lorraine Hansberry, James Baldwin, and many other influential black writers. While these individuals have been duly celebrated, little attention has been paid to the political and artistic milieu in which they produced their greatest works. With this commanding study, Lawrence Jackson recalls the lost history of a crucial era.
Looking at the tumultuous decades surrounding World War II, Jackson restores the "indignant" quality to a generation of African American writers shaped by Jim Crow segregation, the Great Depression, the growth of American communism, and an international wave of decolonization. He also reveals how artistic collectives in New York, Chicago, and Washington fostered a sense of destiny and belonging among diverse and disenchanted peoples. As Jackson shows through contemporary documents, the years that brought us Their Eyes Were Watching God, Native Son, and Invisible Man also saw the rise of African American literary criticism--by both black and white critics.
Fully exploring the cadre of key African American writers who triumphed in spite of segregation, The Indignant Generation paints a vivid portrait of American intellectual and artistic life in the mid-twentieth century.
"[Jackson's] encyclopedic book offers a chronological, old-fashioned history of literature, covering a period desperately in need of thorough-going research and detail, and presents a deeply documented, dense but thoroughly readable account. . . . Jackson's detail may offer more than the casual sightseer seeks, but scholars will rely upon and mine his monumental work and the prodigious research upon which it is based. It should guide the way African-American and American literature is studied."--Publishers Weekly (starred review)
"A meticulously researched, detailed account of African American literature and its critics from the end of the Harlem Renaissance to the beginnings of the Civil Rights Movement. . . . A valuable resource for scholars and graduate students in African American studies."--William Gargan, Library Journal
"[This] exhaustive compilation--covering from the well-known writers to the little recognized--traverses the journeys of the artists and their links in the hubs of Chicago, New York and Washington, D.C."--Maudlyne Ihejirika, Chicago Sun-Times
"Ambitious. . . . Rich with photos and well written, the book merits praise for the deserved attention it brings to the rise of African American criticism and intellectualism and to the many important people who figured in the rise of better-known novelists."--Choice
"Jackson's formulation of the indignant generation is a prodigious contribution to African American literary history."--Andrew M. Fearnley, Journal of American Studies
"The Indignant Generation is a must-read for scholars of American culture on both sides of the Atlantic. . . . Jackson's book is invaluable for its historiographic, hermeneutic, and literary merits."--Sieglinde Lemke, American Studies
Table of Contents