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Quicksand Paperback – February 25, 2010


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 100 pages
  • Publisher: Wilder Publications (February 25, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1604599936
  • ISBN-13: 978-1604599930
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.2 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,572,455 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Fine, thoughtful and courageous. It is, on the whole, the best piece of fiction that Negro America has produced since the heyday of [Charles] Chesnutt." W. E. B. Du Bois --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Nella Larsen (1891-1964) was the author of two novels and several short stories. She received a Guggenheim fellowship to write a third novel in 1930 but, unable to find a publisher for it, she disappeared from the literary scene and worked as a nurse.

Thadious M. Davis is G. C. Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, the author of an acclaimed biography of Nella Larsen, and the editor of Larsen’s Quicksand for Penguin Classics.


Thadious M. Davis is G. C. Vanderbilt Professor of English at Vanderbilt University, the author of an acclaimed biography of Nella Larsen, and the editor of Larsen’s Quicksand for Penguin Classics.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Customer Reviews

I saw myself in this book.
Brittany
Very cleverly set up, This book, as does its characters, holds layer after layer of inner conflict and passion.
Caroda
It was a really honest book.
Jessica M

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

41 of 42 people found the following review helpful By JC Vera on February 4, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Quicksand is an epic story of a tragic heroine written with taste and a great deal of wit. I can't help but wonder how the works of Nella Larsen are so criminally ignored by those interested in the study of African-American literature and the Harlem Renaissance (most texts make a brief footnote, failing to acknowledge the incredible value of this novel and its companion, the erotic and controversial Passing).
The novel follows the ups and downs of Helga Crane, a young woman doomed by her own intelligence and beauty. She is intellectually above those who are supposedly paving the way to success and equality for the black race. She sees a great deal of false pretense and [economic] selfishness in many of the people that she encounters throughout her journey, which is no more than a quest for independence and the possibility of happiness.
Her racial background (mixed, "brought up" by a hateful white stepfather and an ailing mother) defines the way in which she sees the world. She learns to manipulate colour and sex to her own advantage, only to discover in the end that she failed at understanding her real mission in this world. Her rebellious, never content character leads her to a nervous breakdown and the making of a terrible decision that defines her fate. At this point, in the midst of everything that she disliked in life (dirt, pregnancy, ignorance, rural life, religion) she realises that all of her existence she had been walking upon quicksand (her own soul being made of it), and that all she can do now is finally stop fighting; letting herself drown; escaping the struggle.
Larsen's way of ending her novels has been often criticised as rather abrupt and unexpected (Passing ending with the sudden death of its protagonist).
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 14, 1998
Format: Hardcover
Nella Larsen does an exemplary job of devling into the human psyche with Passing. Unlike the color-struck works of Dorothy West this Harlem Renaissance author brings all of the pain of duality of multi-cultural people to the reader. Helga Crane lives between the two worlds of white and black and expresses the same anguish that many middle class blacks feel today. She is not the "tragic mulatto" as many critic paint her. This book should be read by anyone with an interest in the politics of race.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By PuroShaggy on August 22, 2010
Format: Paperback
"Quicksand" masterfully addresses the racial issues faced by a post-Civil War, post-Reconstructionist America (the complexities and the hypocrisies) while telling the story of a young, intelligent, attractive woman growing up in a society where not only is her ethnicity an issue, but her gender is as well.
Helga is a teacher at a "progressive" school in the South, an institution that aims to educate and enlighten poor, uneducated blacks in an attempt to right the wrongs of slavery. In doing so, however, the school attempts to stifle the natural instincts and characteristics of the african-american students and the end result is an essential white-washing of their vitality. Repulsed by this, Helga quits her job and moves north, only to discover that as a single black female, she either does not have enough work experience or is too educated to land a job. She eventually falls in with a progressive crowd who believe that blacks should have nothing to do with whites at all, a viewpoint she also finds ridiculous. The mixed child of a white mother and african father, Helga moves to Denmark to be with her mom's sister, only to discover that while she is treated as a princess being the lone minority in an all white Copenhagen, being alone, apart from her people no matter how well she is treated, does not make her happy.
As Helga lives throughout the book, she is continually struggling with her own views on race, fighting her immediate surroundings but always being pulled further down, as if caught in quicksand.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Giovanni Turner on May 23, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nella Larsen's "Quicksand" is a sleeper masterpiece. She artfully weaves a tale of coming of age & unrequited love. The characters are real, and the conclusion is open to several different interpretations.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on July 16, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
very insightful, like the author's style of writing and surprise twists and turns. Plan to read more of Nella Larsen
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Nella Larsen's 'Quicksand' is in the tradition of the tragic mulatto fiction popular until the middle of the century, like 'Passing' it describes a woman living in a hellish world where freedom can only be at the price of deception and acquiescence. The protagonists flees her stifling college job teaching in the deep south to Chicago and later to Europe but the world offer no escape and her efforts at finding herself end up futile and her sould crushed, This is then th tragedy of a quiet life.
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By Caroda on January 21, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This was clearly a difficult story for Larsen to write at the time she wrote it in the late 20's. It was well crafted, and emotionally evocative, as a deep relationship between two opposites (in every way but gender) begins to build and simmer under the surface of antagonism. Very cleverly set up, This book, as does its characters, holds layer after layer of inner conflict and passion. No one is as she seems, and none loses her instinct for self-preservation, even as addiction for the 'other' grows and chokes out the life of 'normalcy'.

It seems somehow fitting that Larsen's next book did not find a publisher, and that this story is her last of record. It is a huge story, set in what proved a huge decade, amidst the rennaisance of the arts in Harlem. I sensed throughout that although the author was an adult woman, the story was told by an insecure child who had taken a deep breath, and now was braving everything in order to to "tell'.

A posthumous 'brava' to Ms. Larsen. You dug deep and you moved the ground a little with every page.

I finished the book with the distinct feeling that writing this book had wrung every drop from its author, That it cost her dearly to speak from her heart, for this story has the aura of the confessional about it
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