Nella Larsen: Passing (3336 words)


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The second and final published novel of Nella Larsen’s brief but brilliant literary career, Passing appeared in 1929, a year after Quicksand had made Larsen’s reputation and won praise from W.E.B. Dubois as “the best piece of fiction that Negro America has produced since the heyday of Chesnutt” (784). Though Passing did not create the immediate sensation of Larsen’s first book, modern critics, scholars and students have been fascinated by its intricate exploration of American racial codes and its nuanced, still-relevant treatments of social class and sexuality.

Passing opens with a poetic epigraph from Countée Cullen’s “Heritage” that asks “What is Africa to me?” The fundamental …

Citation: Chura, Patrick, Alexa Lago. "Passing". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 16 August 2016 [, accessed 07 August 2022.]

2909 Passing 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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