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Infants of the Spring (Black Classics) Paperback – 3 Nov 1998

4.3 out of 5 stars 3 customer reviews

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Paperback, 3 Nov 1998
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Product details

  • Paperback: 186 pages
  • Publisher: The X Press; Reissue edition (3 Nov. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1874509611
  • ISBN-13: 978-1874509615
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 1.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 764,718 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

About the Author

Wallace Thurman is the author of "Harlem, " a play, and two other novels, "Infants of the Spring" and "Interne." He died in 1934.

Amritjit Singh is a professor of English and African American studies at Ohio University. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

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By A Customer on 9 Mar. 1999
Format: Paperback
Infants of the Spring, by Wallace Thurman, is a novel of images. At first, the novel is written much like a play. It reads as a dialogue with stage directions. It's no wonder that it was later adapted for the theater. Nevertheless, as both Thurman and the reader become more in tune with the characters and plot, the dramatic quality of the work lends itself to the crazy, oftentimes shocking, images of Harlem during the roaring twenties and the Harlem Renaissance.
Centered among these images is Raymond Taylor, a cynical budding writer in search of his voice among the many influences of the period: alcohol, women, white patronage, and lofty black artists. Thurman uses these four influences to round out a number of characters as they try to create a community of artists in a building termed "Niggerati Manor." Bent on creating a cornerstone for artistic fervor and the defining of a period, what comes to pass is a falling apart of those initial ideals. As a result, the artists fall into pleasure seeking instead of production; drinking their lives away instead of making their statements about race and art.
Infants of the Spring falls short in its dealing with racial and gender issues. Often times themes are brought to the fore by Thurman and as quickly dropped to the way side in the turning of a few pages. Shortened chapters intensifies the "image" idea, and in these images Thurman fails to examine the repercussions of actions. A woman's abortion is brushed aside. A rape and the fate of the accused is nearly forgotten. Art, the main reason these individuals are together, is replaced by parties and drinking.
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Format: Paperback
Politically incorrect, pedantic, with laughingly awful flights of "serious writing", this novel nonetheless opens up a window to the past with an immediacy few novels match. Thurman was there and he lets you know how it was. Important both as a historical document and one of the earliest examples of black gay literature, it will fascinate despite the clumsy writing. A window into a lost world if you're willing to forgive the prose.
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Format: Paperback
Wallace Thurman's "Infants of the Spring" illustrates the lives and ideals of the "New Negro" of 1920's Harlem. In a loosely biographical depiction of the young generation of artists, who defined themselves as the New Negro artists like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Thurman himself, Thurman interprets the role the relationship between the black artist and his art in a time of rapidly changing ideology. Like thier counterpart's of the white race, referred to as the "Lost Generation" by Gertrude Stein and company,Black intellectuals of the 1920's sought to find themselves in a reaction thier perceptions of the previous generation's failings. Rebelling against an older generation that gleefully supported WWI and retained the victorian ideology and rhetoric of the previous century, intellectuals both black and white looked to Art in order to recreate the world in terms modern and understandable to them. Thematically, the protagonist, Raymond, a talented writer who spends most of his time drinking and finding interuptions from his writing, attempts to break free from the boundaries of race on the art he produces. Raymond and his brethren in "Niggerati Manor" live in a world of white and black masks, Raymond's close friendship with the Nordic Stephen illustrates the Raymond's denial of racial differences. One of the main objectives of the young generation of writers in the Harlem Renaissance was to create for the sake of art alone. The young generation felt that to write only as and example of ones race constrained that art of the race aritst.Read more ›
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)

Amazon.com: HASH(0x8b55fb1c) out of 5 stars 12 reviews
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b8477ec) out of 5 stars This book speaks to you! 18 Sept. 1999
By EarlRandy - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Thurman was not the most polished of writers, but he makes up that shortcoming by having a lot to say. I was enraptured with the number of ideas present in this book, and many times I paused to consider the weight of his words.
Yes, the text is often clumsy, but the dialogue is sterling. So this is really what the Harlem Renaissance was about? I wish I could have been there. There are so many memorable characters in this book, and they all are real and possess unique personalities. Even the minor characters are fleshed out.
Buy this book and read it. You won't regret it. After reading it, I have only one question: Why isn't Thurman's third novel, INTERNE, available? I can't think of any author to whom to compare Thurman. His dialogue reminds me a bit of Hemingway, but not really. Reading Thurman is a unique experience!
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b847840) out of 5 stars One of the best bad novels written 2 Aug. 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Politically incorrect, pedantic, with laughingly awful flights of "serious writing", this novel nonetheless opens up a window to the past with an immediacy few novels match. Thurman was there and he lets you know how it was. Important both as a historical document and one of the earliest examples of black gay literature, it will fascinate despite the clumsy writing. A window into a lost world if you're willing to forgive the prose.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b847a14) out of 5 stars Knowledge of Harlem Renaissance not required! 2 Dec. 2003
By John - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I put off reading this for years because of its leadenly Shakespearian title, and was surprised and pleased to find when I did finally pick it up that it was a pacey, barbed and entertaining read. It's not 'hilarious' (as billed in the promotional blurb above) but it is sharp. In its astute but cynical take on its characters & their situation it made me think of Chester Himes, (& Thurman has a similar 'banged off' style to Himes), & in its subject-matter - black & white bohemia, & the politics of race & sexuality - it's very much a precursor to James Baldwin's 'Another Country'. The debates around the role of the artist, particularly the black artist, in this book seem to me as resonant today as they were when it was written: does a black artist have a duty to represent the race, to engage politically with racial issues in an overt or didactic way, or is his or her duty to art as a force - or truth - in itself? Thurman provides no answers, but he shows how such tensions - combined with self-delusion, brittleness, lack of application and other human failings - lead people who are struggling to be creative to collapse in on themselves, with disastrous results. Thurman's style is jaunty and, although highly engaging, deters the reader from empathising greatly with the characters; yet I found the end of the book, which is on one level camp, strangely moving and upsetting.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b56d060) out of 5 stars Harlem Life 5 Sept. 2006
By Anthony Amir - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I'm not an English major and I possess no talent for critically analyzing literature. However, I am a black man with a desire to know more about his heritage, and I gained insights from this book that I could never garner from a history class. From the conversations between the characters, to the pictures painted of Harlem in the 1920's, the author gives an intimate look into the thoughts, fashions, music, literature and themes of the day.

Obviously based on facts, with names changed to protect the innocent, there is a truth to this novel that more than compensates for any writing flaws. This novel, more than Blacker the Berry, gives insight into the minds of the creative, genius, and often times tortured minds of those leading the renaisance.

I would reccomend this novel to anyone wishing to learn more about the details of life in Harlem during the 20's.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
HASH(0x8b56d084) out of 5 stars A great depiction of Black Intellectuals in the 1920's 7 April 1999
By lrg4x@virginia.edu - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Wallace Thurman's "Infants of the Spring" illustrates the lives and ideals of the "New Negro" of 1920's Harlem. In a loosely biographical depiction of the young generation of artists, who defined themselves as the New Negro artists like Langston Hughes, Zora Neale Hurston and Thurman himself, Thurman interprets the role the relationship between the black artist and his art in a time of rapidly changing ideology. Like thier counterpart's of the white race, referred to as the "Lost Generation" by Gertrude Stein and company,Black intellectuals of the 1920's sought to find themselves in a reaction thier perceptions of the previous generation's failings. Rebelling against an older generation that gleefully supported WWI and retained the victorian ideology and rhetoric of the previous century, intellectuals both black and white looked to Art in order to recreate the world in terms modern and understandable to them. Thematically, the protagonist, Raymond, a talented writer who spends most of his time drinking and finding interuptions from his writing, attempts to break free from the boundaries of race on the art he produces. Raymond and his brethren in "Niggerati Manor" live in a world of white and black masks, Raymond's close friendship with the Nordic Stephen illustrates the Raymond's denial of racial differences. One of the main objectives of the young generation of writers in the Harlem Renaissance was to create for the sake of art alone. The young generation felt that to write only as and example of ones race constrained that art of the race aritst. Raymond's attempt to merge the two races in social settings, his attempt at integrating peacably and without issue, illustrates the pursuit of the artist's of the Harlem Renaissance to create art on a universal level, incorporating the knowledge of as Zora Neale Hurston put it "Colored Me". The young generation of artists to whom Thurman belonged to wrote about thier lives as blacks, but they did not constrain themselves to writing only about black issues, they wrote for a universal audience. They wrote with a knowledge of the ancient and magnificent contributions of the black race, and also with the modern hope of creating a truer and more reliable world. Although many people view this book as a sharp critique of the Harlem Renaissance, to me it seems to suggest a bit of the optimism of the generation of black intellectuals who took it upon themselves to uplift thier race through art.
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