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Clarence Major and His Art

Portraits of an African American Postmodernist

Edited by Bernard W. Bell

Clarence Major and His Art

304 pp., 6.125 x 9.25, 16 color plates., 8 halftones, notes, bibl., index

  • Paperback ISBN: 978-0-8078-4899-9
    Published: January 2001

Buy this Book

Poet, novelist, essayist, editor, anthologist, lexicographer, and painter, Clarence Major is one of the most challenging, prolific, yet underappreciated contemporary African American artists. This collection combines poetry, prose, and art by Major with critical essays by leading scholars that showcase Major's aesthetic movement across literary, cultural, and political boundaries and illuminate the complex relationship between the artist's writing and painting.

Although Major's artistic vision is grounded in the historical experiences of black and Native American peoples, he boldly experiments with crossing boundaries of all types. His use of different narrative voices is evidence of what editor Bernard Bell calls Major's "double consciousness" as an African American artist.

This collection highlights the breadth of Major's work, his transformation into a postmodern artist, and the hybrid voices of his literary and visual productions. By presenting Major's poetry, novels, and paintings alongside critical interpretations of these works, this book makes possible a long-overdue examination of a multitalented artist.

About the Author

Bernard W. Bell is professor of American and African American literatures in the Department of English at Pennsylvania State University. He is author, editor, or coeditor of seven previous books, including The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition and Call and Response: The Riverside Anthology of African American Literary Tradition.
For more information about Bernard W. Bell, visit the Author Page.


"Employing his formidable critical skills, Bernard W. Bell investigates the work of one of the century's most complex artists."--Ishmael Reed, University of California, Berkeley

"In 1958, the first issue of Coercion Review appeared, bearing the subtitle 'A Clarence Major Venture.' Bernard Bell's expansive anthology of writings by and about this protean figure in American arts is itself a major venture. It is an excellent collection of instigating essays that present valuable debates among themselves, debates about the changing nature of contemporary African-American writing and disputatious views on the subject of the postmodern. With the inclusion of a selection of Major's poetry, prose, and paintings (many of which are not available in other books), this collection will prove of real interest to the widest range of readers and scholars."--Aldon Lynn Nielsen, Loyola Marymount University