"ONE OF THE MOST PROMINENT AND MILITANT VOICES FOR RACIAL EQUALITY IN THE EARLY YEARS OF THE HARLEM RENAISSANCE": FIRST EDITION OF CLAUDE MCKAY'S MAJOR SECOND NOVEL, BANJO, IN ORIGINAL DUST JACKET
McKAY, Claude. Banjo. A Story without a Plot. New York and London: Harper & Brothers, 1929. Octavo, original half black cloth, orange and navy boards, decorative endpapers, original dust jacket. $1600.
First edition of McKay's landmark second novel, his controversial Harlem Renaissance work that marks "an important milestone" in African American literature, a handsome copy in bright original dust jacket designed by African American artist Aaron Douglas.
The Jamaican-born McKay "was one of the most prominent and militant voices for racial equality in the early years of the Harlem Renaissance… his fierce artistic and political independence earned him the respect of young writers, among them Langston Hughes" (Bader, African-American Writers, 274-5). McKay's "importance as a pioneering African American writer lay not only in his specific artistic achievements, but also and more broadly in his ability… to claim for African Americans a voice and a role in the unfolding drama of world history and literature" (Smith, African American Writers, 242). Written while McKay lived in Europe and North Africa for over a decade, "it is possible to read Banjo as a roman a clef portraying friends and acquaintances from his time living in Marseilles, particularly in the summer of 1926 and the spring of 1928" (Hayes, Practice of Diaspora, 189). Prized as well for capturing "a pan-African world community that included the Senegalese dockers and Algerian longshoremen" (New Yorker), Banjo "marks an important milestone… McKay's literary oeuvre is a unique contribution to the global discourse of black writing. It inaugurated two significant black cultural movements, the Harlem Renaissance in the United States and Negritude in Europe" (Ramesh & Rani, Claude McKay, 1, 112). "First Edition" stated on copyright page with code "C-D" indicating publication in March 1929. With original dust jacket designed by Aaron Douglas. Blockson 4736. Contemporary gift inscription dated 1930.
Book fine; light edge-wear, mild toning to spine of colorful unrestored near-fine dust jacket.