Cover for Pfeiffer: Brother Mine: The Correspondence of Jean Toomer and Waldo Frank. Click for larger image

Brother Mine

The Correspondence of Jean Toomer and Waldo Frank

An extraordinary literary friendship, preserved in letters

The friendship of Jean Toomer and Waldo Frank was one of the most emotionally intense, racially complicated, and aesthetically significant relationships in the history of American literary modernism. Waldo Frank was an established white writer who advised and assisted the younger African American Jean Toomer as he pursued a literary career. They met in 1920, began corresponding regularly in 1922, and were estranged by the end of 1923, the same year that Toomer published his ambitiously modernist debut novel, Cane.

While individual letters between Frank and Toomer have been published separately on occasion, they have always been presented out of context. This volume presents for the first time their entire correspondence in chronological order, comprising 121 letters ranging from 200 to 800 words each. Kathleen Pfeiffer annotates and introduces the letters, framing the correspondence and explaining the literary and historical allusions in the letters themselves.

Reading like an epistolary novel, Brother Mine captures the sheer emotional force of the story that unfolds in these letters: two men discover an extraordinary friendship, and their intellectual and emotional intimacy takes shape before our eyes. This unprecedented collection preserves the raw honesty of their exchanges, together with the developing drama of their ambition, their disappointments, their assessment of their world, and ultimately, the betrayal that ended the friendship.

"A groundbreaking work of scholarship. These fascinating letters tell the story of Toomer and Frank's relationship as the writers shared their writing and criticized and commented on each other's work. An important addition to any serious collection on early Harlem Renaissance writers."--Choice

"Unusually valuable for the history of modernism. This fascinating correspondence will create further interest in Toomer, Frank, and the mixed-race environment of the 1920s."--Linda Wagner-Martin, author of Telling Women's Lives: The New Biography

"Readers and scholars will welcome this fully annotated and contextually framed collection of the alchemy that comes from the significant voices of Jean Toomer and Waldo Frank. This volume brings long-needed light to two figures whose reputations and influence on American letters have been skewed by the lack of mutually illuminating materials, until now."--Steve H. Cook, editor of The Correspondence Between Hart Crane and Waldo Frank

Kathleen Pfeiffer is an associate professor of English at Oakland University. She is the editor of Waldo Frank's novel Holiday and the author of Race Passing and American Individualism.

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