By Cherene Sherrard-Johnson
Dorothy West is better often called one of many youngest writers fascinated by the Harlem Renaissance. consequently, her paintings is learn as a made of the city aesthetics of this inventive circulate. yet West was once additionally in detail rooted in a really various milieu—Oak Bluffs, an specific retreat for African american citizens on Martha’s winery. She performed an critical position within the improvement and renovation of that group. within the years among publishing her novels, 1948’s The residing is Easy and the 1995 bestseller The Wedding, she labored as a columnist for the winery Gazette.
Dorothy West’s Paradise captures the scope of the author’s lengthy lifestyles and occupation, analyzing it along the original cultural geography of Oak Bluffs and its historical past as an elite African American enclave—a position that West expected either as a separatist shelter and as an area for interracial touch. an important ebook for either lovers of West’s fiction and scholars of race, type, and American women’s lives, Dorothy West’s Paradise bargains an intimate biography of a tremendous writer and a privileged glimpse into the society that formed her work.
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Extra info for Dorothy West's Paradise: A Biography of Class and Color
I excavate West’s story of how the “New Yorkers” “lost the beach for the Bostonians” in Oak Bluffs, Massachusetts, as a point of departure for this biography because it places the major thematic concerns in West’s writing in conversation with the overall concerns of my book. Her recounting of this beach story through multiple mediums reveals how her journalism, ﬁction, and storytelling simultaneously preserved and invented speciﬁc aspects of Oak Bluffs’ social history and racial geography. In tracing the literary and oral iterations of an incident peculiar to the unique location and population of Martha’s Vineyard as it is recycled by West and echoed by her peers in interviews, pictorial archives, unpublished and published writings, I illustrate the social, economic, and cultural factors that converge, often violently, on the contested space of the beach.
The ﬁelds of daisies and buttercups and the beauty of the landscape and the ocean were overwhelming. This beauty affected my life to the extent that I am to this day a great lover of nature. 52 Jones’s memories document the historical experience of black vacationers on the island. She pays sharp attention to the ecological topography of the island—the features that set it off from the mainland United States, literally and ﬁguratively. The language she uses to describe the journey and the arrival is hyperbolic, a remembrance replete with utopic diction.
In Martha’s Vineyard’s visual archives and in histories of the island blacks a certain noticeable aesthetic prevails over the beachside shots collected from family albums. Stanley Nelson’s ﬁlm A Place of Our Own explores the predominance of light-skinned blacks in the community. Nelson interviews residents who remember feeling or being excluded on the basis of A “LEGEND OF OAK BLUFFS” 33 skin color in their youth. Such experiences, seemingly the exception rather than the rule, can be ameliorated by family name, occupation, and education.