Chapter

Introduction

Gary Edward Holcomb

in Claude McKay, Code Name Sasha

Published by University Press of Florida

Published in print June 2007 | ISBN: 9780813030494
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780813039381 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5744/florida/9780813030494.003.0001
Introduction

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Amongst studies concerning the Harlem Renaissance authors, Festus Claudius McKay is at last in vogue. Even at the prime of his career, McKay was often a marginalized figure. This book examines “Sasha”, a code name adopted by Harlem Renaissance writer Claude McKay to thwart investigations on his life and work. For more than two decades, the FBI, U.S. State Department, British police and intelligence, and French law and colonial authorities took turns harassing McKay who was openly gay, a Marxist, and a Jamaican emigrant who had left the U.S. and settled in Europe. This book evaluates four of McKay's works to address the multilayered black queer anarchism present in McKay's literature. This queer black anarchism present in McKay's writings made him subject of investigations and contributed to his declining literary reputation. Often perceived as unacceptable and mystifying due to his dedication to communism, McKay is often taken to be perplexing hence making him and his work difficult to classify within the traditional constructs of Harlem Renaissance. This book examines McKay's most important works: the Jazz Age bestseller Home to Harlem, the négritude novelBanjo, and the unpublished Romance in Marseille. In this book, the queer black anarchism of the Home to Harlem, the Marxist international sexual dissidence portrayed by the Banjo , and the consequences of the Romance in Marseille which is the most significant early black diaspora novel are examined and assessed. The book also includes an examination of McKay's FBI files and his autobiography A Long Way from Home which served as means for McKay to disguise his past in order to escape his harassers.

Keywords: Harlem Renaissance; Festus Claudius McKay; Sasha; Claude McKay; gay; Marxist; Jamaican emigrant; black queer anarchism; négritude

Chapter.  8839 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Literature

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