Although she had been writing for The Crisis since her undergraduate days, it was not literary aspiration that spurred Jessie Redmon Fauset to write novels, but rather the 1922 publication of T. S. Stribling’s novel about a middle-class mulatto, Birthright. Realizing that there was “an audience waiting to hear the truth about” African Americans, Fauset felt that those who were better qualified than whites to present the truth should do so. In presenting such truth, Fauset wrote about characters she knew best: educated African Americans from respectable family backgrounds who in their values and goals were, as she stated, “not so vastly different from other Americans.” Fauset used traditional literary forms in her writing, such as the sentimental novel, Greek tragedy, and fairy tales, and she was criticized for offering nothing innovative during a time when African American writers were experimenting with cultural forms and themes. In addition, because Fauset’s novels focused on women and women’s issues, they were dismissed in the 1930’s by both white and black male critics. With the burgeoning interest in African American women’s literature in the 1970’s, female critics began to discover the complexity of Fauset’s novels and to note her treatment of gender, class, and race issues. As a result, Fauset’s works have become the focus of increased critical attention.
There Is Confusion
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