Thursday, August 13, 2020

the last book I ever read (The Big Sea: An Autobiography by Langston Hughes, excerpt eleven)

from The Big Sea: An Autobiography by Langston Hughes:

That was really the end of the gay times of the New Negro era in Harlem, the period that had begun to reach its end when the crash came in 1929 and the white people had much less money to spend on themselves, and practically none to spend on Negroes, for the depression brought everybody down a peg or two. And the Negroes had but few pegs to fall.

But in those pre-crash days there were parties and parties. At the novelist, Jessie Fauset’s, parties there was always quite a different atmosphere from that at most other Harlem good-time gatherings. At Miss Fauset’s, a good time was shared by talking literature and reading poetry aloud and perhaps enjoying some conversation in French. White people were seldom present there unless they were very distinguished white people, because Jessie Fauset did not feel like opening her home to mere sightseers, or faddists momentarily in love with Negro life. At her house one would usually meet editors and students, writers and social workers, and serious people who liked book and the British Museum, and had perhaps been to Florence. (Italy, not Alabama.)

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