Thursday, October 07, 2021

Tone, Chicago, typography: Nella Larsen's "Passing" and Gwendolyn Brooks's "Maud Martha"

A student of mine recently wrote a list of novels from the 1920s for her Master's exam, including Nella Larsen's "Passing" (1929), which I've always wanted to read but never gotten to previously. While reading Larsen, I keep thinking of Gwendolyn Brooks's 1953 novel "Maud Martha": the tone of the two novels is similar enough to make me wonder whether Brooks knew Larsen's work. But maybe it's just that Larsen's novel begins with scenes set in Chicago, where Brooks's novel takes place – or perhaps it's even an unconscious effect that the Larsen edition I'm reading and the Brooks edition I own have strikingly similar typography (especially their fonts and wide margins). (Andrew Shields, #111words, 7 October 2021)

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