THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF JEAN TOOMER: AN EDITION
Jean Toomer's autobiography of 1935 is the most comprehensive of a series of autobiographical writings that began in the mid 1920's and continued through the 1940's. Toomer's analytical interest in human psychology, his intensive work with the ideas and methods of G. I. Gurdjieff, and his sense of unfulfilled potential led to and largely shaped his autobiographical work. The 1935 autobiography is a direct, unembellished statement of Toomer's character and development. Toomer warned in a preface that the book would not be "seductive" or "exciting," but that it would try to furnish valid information ("I mean what I say") and do so effectively ("I hear what I write"). The character presented in this autobiography is a sensitive, psychologically divided individual trying to establish an identity and set realistic and useful goals for himself. The development of this character proceeds by a series of crises which punish self-deception and force self-evaluation. Lack of detail and simplicity of syntax make the book "flat" and matter-of-fact, but although Toomer's style in this work is not that of Cane, it is a "musical" style which, like that of Cane, is best appreciated when read aloud. It is, in short, a "seductive" style.
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