Cane Criticism

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Cane was a phenomenal critical success from its first printing, but it was a commercial failure, with fewer than 5000 copies published during Jean Toomer's lifetime. Some biographers and critics refer to this fact to explain why the author never followed it up with another novel. It was published in 1923, a time when the literary world was alive with writers like Toomer who experimented with traditional narrative styles, and the critics were very receptive to the novel's uniqueness, in some cases even overenthusiastic. Darwin T. Turner, who has written much about Toomer's career, captured some of the enthusiasm of the early praise in his introduction to the 1975 edition of Cane:

Lola Ridge, editor of Broom, predicted that Toomer would be the most widely discussed author of his generation, which is remembered now for such individuals as Sherwood Anderson, Ernest Hemingway, F. Scott Fitzgerald, and William Faulkner. John Mc-Clure, editor...

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