"A PIONEER IN 20TH-CENTURY BLACK LITERATURE": FIRST EDITION, FIRST ISSUE OF CLAUDE MCKAY'S CONTROVERSIAL AUTOBIOGRAPHY, LONG WAY FROM HOME, 1937, IN ORIGINAL DUST JACKET
MCKAY, Claude. A Long Way from Home. New York: Lee Furman, (1937). Octavo, original russet cloth with printed labels on spine and front board, original dust jacket. $2200.
First edition of McKay's revealing autobiography, spanning publication of his 1919 sonnet credited with sparking the Harlem Renaissance, through to his life and travels on several continents, in the very elusive original dust jacket.
"A pioneer in 20th-century black literature in the West Indies, the U.S. and Africa,… McKay gave early expression to themes that have since figured prominently in black American writing" (Cooper, Claude McKay, vii-viii). Hailed as one of the greatest writers of the Harlem Renaissance for his boldly defiant sonnet, "If We Must Die" (1919), and novels such as Home to Harlem (1929), McKay was "one of the most prolific and sophisticated writers of the first half of the 20th century." Born in Jamaica and widely traveled, McKay often clashed with African American leaders who urged black artists to embody what Alain Locke described as "racial spokesmanship." McKay's Long Way from Home reflects on his life post-WWI, his role in the Harlem Renaissance, and his life on several continents. Often provocative, it offers "a highly introspective treatise on being at home in the world." In many ways it "anticipated the discussion of race, class and politics attributed to another autobiography, the second half of Richard Wright's Black Boy (1945)." McKay's transnational views on race and culture, along with his complex sense of the "unity and tension between… class-based and race-based strategies," make him one of the most important writers of his time (Jarrett, Representing Race, 102-15). First edition, with first-issue russet cloth textured red and orange, black and bronze foil labels on spine and front board; original dust jacket designed by Aaron Douglas, with photographic illustrations on rear panel.
Text very fresh and crisp, slight rubbing to original cloth; tape reinforcement, light edge-wear minimally affecting spine lettering of colorful dust jacket. An extremely good copy of a seminal work by McKay.