The History of Literature #94 – Smoke, Dusk, and Fire – The Jean Toomer Story

Jean Toomer (1894-1967) was born into a prominent black family in Washington, D.C., but it wasn’t until he returned to the land of agrarian Georgia that he was inspired to write his masterpiece Cane (1923), a towering achievement that went on to influence the writers of the Harlem Renaissance and the Lost Generation. While Toomer’s own life presents a portrait of a man searching for an identity in a world of too-rigid categorization, the confident and self-assured Cane stands for a universality that defies categorization and bridges American divisions. In this episode, host Jacke Wilson reflects upon his own search for identity in small-town Wisconsin, which coincidentally was one of the places where Jean Toomer landed as well.


Write a review on iTunes (or another site), then send us an email at to receive your free History of Literature postcard as a thank you gift. Act now while supplies last!

Show Notes: 

Contact the host at or by leaving a voicemail at 1-361-4WILSON (1-361-494-5766).

You can find more literary discussion at and more episodes of the series at

Check out our Facebook page at

You can follow Jacke Wilson at his Twitter account @WriterJacke. You can also follow Mike and the Literature Supporters Club (and receive daily book recommendations) by looking for @literatureSC.

Music Credits:

“I Been ‘Buked” (trad. Negro Spiritual), performed by the Georgia Spiritual Ensemble.

Handel – Entrance to the Queen of Sheba” by Advent Chamber Orchestra (From the Free Music Archive / CC by SA).

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s