Manual Invisible darkness: Jean Toomer & Nella Larsen

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Larson joined the Peace Corps, he had "no particular interest in or knowledge of Africa, its people, and its culture," according to Barbara A. Bannon of Publishers Weekly. While teaching in Nigeria, Larson started buying books written by Africans and quickly became familiar with a variety of works and authors. When he returned to the United States , he found the courses in African literature wanting. Much important literature was not available, and what was being taught—books like Conrad's Heart of Darkness —presented a Western perspective.

Larson was thus inspired to begin editing a series of books which Thomas A. Hale claimed in World Literature Today "has done much to enable teachers of literature to include African writers in their courses.

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Most of the stories. Jennifer Hunt in American Visions called it a "splendid" volume, and that praise was echoed by a Publishers Weekly reviewer, who also approved of Larson's "illuminating introduction" and the "succinct" author biographies that preface the stories. Ellen Flexman, a writer for Library Journal, recommended Under African Skies as "an excellent introduction to African literature" and an "important" part of any collection of African- American literature.

In The Ordeal of the African Writer, Larson offers "a short but informative" guide to writing and publishing in contemporary Africa, reported Kristine Huntley in Booklist. The author describes in great detail the process of getting a book published, and explained why it is so difficult for African writers to realize any profit on their works.

Huntley described the book as "accessible" even for those who have not read all the works discussed in it.

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She further called The Ordeal of the African Writer "eye-opening" and "essential" for anyone "interested in African writing or the huge obstacles African writers face. Larson has also enjoyed some success as a writer of fiction. Much of the background for his novel The Insect Colony came from the author's own experiences in Nigeria and the Cameroons.

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The story centers around Hunter, a white entomologist, and other Europeans pursuing their interests in Africa. Charles Trueheart of the Washington Post Book World saw the depiction of conditions in these countries as disappointing: "The West Africa Larson undoubtedly knows—having lived there and taught and anthologized it literature—emerges only pallidly, a painted backdrop to the psychological goings-on among the expatriates. Such flatness might be considered intentional, a deliberate echo of all that Charles Larson means to say, were there an ironic or oblique dimension to anything else in The Insect Colony, which there isn't.

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Prescott in Newsweek advised, "This is a remorseless story strongly told. The sex fairly steams and the symbols are painted with the kind of bold brush that eases the lives of freshman English instructors.


Larson also tried his hand at a comic novel, with some success. Volume George Hutchinson. Jerry Gershenhorn. North Carolina Central University. Oxford Academic. Google Scholar.

Invisible Darkness: Jean Toomer and Nella Larsen

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Further reading | Nella Larsen: Passing, Quicksand, and The Stories Wikipedia | GradeSaver

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Faculty Profile: Charles Larson

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