Born to the clergyman John Wesley Fisher and Glendora Williamson Fisher in Washington, D.C., Rudolph John Chauncey Fisher was raised in New York and Providence, Rhode Island. He began a dual career as a physician and fiction writer during the Harlem Renaissance. Fisher was an honors student at Classical High School in Providence; he graduated in 1915. He attended Brown University and majored in English, later changing to biology and ultimately graduating with honors in that field. Fisher, who received awards for public speaking during his collegiate years, was a member of Phi Beta Kappa. He also earned an M.A. degree at Brown.
Between 1920 and 1924 Fisher pursued medical studies at Howard University Medical School. The year of his graduation he married Jane Ryder, a schoolteacher in Washington, D.C. In 1925 he moved to New York to further his medical career as a fellow at Columbia University’s College of Physicians and Surgeons. From 1925 to 1927, the peak of the Harlem Renaissance, Fisher published the bulk of his short fiction. “The City of Refuge” and “Ringtail” appeared in The Atlantic Monthly, “The South Lingers On” in Survey Graphic, and “High Yaller” in The Crisis. Fisher’s stories address the dilemmas and ironies of Harlem life as well as the continuities and disjunctures of the black southern folk tradition.
Fisher uses the ironic twist as the primary technique for ending his stories. “City of Refuge” concerns a recent arrival to Harlem who is tricked by a hustler into selling narcotics. “The South Lingers On,” a story in five parts, uses vernacular and interrelated segments to show the retention of folk characteristics. The five sections, each ending ironically, suggest a variety of themes explored in other works by the author: religious affiliation, urban employment, traditional values, and...
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