Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

  • List Price: $14.00
  • Save: $5.74 (41%)
FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books.
In Stock.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
Passing (Penguin Classics... has been added to your Cart
+ $3.99 shipping
Used: Very Good | Details
Sold by book_holders
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: [ No Hassle 30 Day Returns + Ships Daily ] [ Underlining/Highlighting:SOME ]
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

Passing (Penguin Classics) Paperback – Black & White, February 4, 2003

4.1 out of 5 stars 186 customer reviews

See all 36 formats and editions Hide other formats and editions
Price
New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, Black & White, February 4, 2003
$8.26
$7.15 $6.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$500.00

The Underground Railroad
The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent tour de force chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more
$8.26 FREE Shipping on orders with at least $25 of books. In Stock. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.
click to open popover

Frequently Bought Together

  • Passing (Penguin Classics)
  • +
  • Citizen: An American Lyric
Total price: $23.17
Buy the selected items together


Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The heroine of Passing takes an elevator from the infernal August Chicago streets to the breezy rooftop of the heavenly Drayton Hotel, "wafted upward on a magic carpet to another world, pleasant, quiet, and strangely remote from the sizzling one that she had left below." Irene is black, but like her author, the Danish-African American Nella Larsen (a star of the 1920s to mid-1930s Harlem Renaissance and the first black woman to win a Guggenheim creative-writing award), she can "pass" in white society. Yet one woman in the tea room, "fair and golden, like a sunlit day," keeps staring at her, and eventually introduces herself as Irene's childhood friend Clare, who left their hometown 12 years before when her father died. Clare's father had been born "on the left hand"--he was the product of a legal marriage between a white man and a black woman and therefore cut off from his inheritance. So she was raised penniless by white racist relatives, and now she passes as white. Even Clare's violent white husband is in the dark about her past, though he teases her about her tan and affectionately calls her "Nig." He laughingly explains: "When we were first married, she was white as--as--well as white as a lily. But I declare she's getting darker and darker." As Larsen makes clear, Passing can also mean dying, and Clare is in peril of losing her identity and her life.

The tale is simple on the surface--a few adventures in Chicago and New York's high life, with lots of real people and race-mixing events described (explicated by Thadious M. Davis's helpful introduction and footnotes). But underneath, it seethes with rage, guilt, sex, and complex deceptions. Irene fears losing her black husband to Clare, who seems increasingly predatory. Or is this all in Irene's mind? And is everyone wearing a mask? Larsen's book is a scary hall of mirrors, a murder mystery that can't resolve itself. It sticks with you. --Tim Appelo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

Another trailblazer, Larsen wrote this novel in 1929. It follows Clare Kendry and Irene Redfield, two light-skinned black women who try to escape racism. Kendry chooses to sever all ties with her background and passes herself off as white, while Redfield simply denies that racism exists. Both, however, eventually are forced to face the awful truth. This edition contains a lengthy introduction and scholarly notes on the text. Essential for Black History Month.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Series: Penguin Classics
  • Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Classics; 1 edition (February 4, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0142437271
  • ISBN-13: 978-0142437278
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.4 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (186 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,453 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By mp on November 10, 2001
Format: Paperback
Nella Larsen's 1929 novella, "Passing," is an incredible, dark exploration of the lengths to which people go to secure personal happiness. Coming out just four years after "The Great Gatsby," "Passing" can be seen in more than one way as the Harlem Renaissance's response to and a parallel text of Fitzgerald's acknowledged masterwork. Not to limit Larsen's skills by strict comparison to "Gatsby," "Passing" should of course, be considered on its own merits, which are considerable. Difficult to place as simply the work of a talented black woman writer, Larsen's "Passing" is a novella with carefully nuanced and complicated views of racial, sexual, economic, and more generally personal and national identity. Indeed, the narrative is right to sugges that these are inextricable and forces the reader to adjudicate the struggle.
"Passing" begins with a letter received. By inviting us to peer into the contents of personal correspondence in the grand tradition of the epistolary novel, then denying us the full contents, the reader must come to terms with a limited, and even deceptive narrative style. Irene Redfield refuses to open a letter she has just gotten from a childhood acquaintance with whom she has had only brief communication with since, Clare Kendry. Irene then reflects on the time, two years ago, when she happened unexpectedly upon Clare at a rooftop restaurant in Chicago. As 'black' women who can 'pass' for 'white,' they meet at this decidedly white restaurant, after gauging each other in confused silence.
Read more ›
1 Comment 61 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
It only takes Nella Larsen one hundred and fourteen pages to produce a thought provoking and imaginative story about the Black bourgeoisie in 1920s Harlem. At a time when men were the prominent literary figures, Larsen was the first writer to explore the issues facing the fair skinned middle class. Larsen confronts racy issues such as sexism and racism while using language so potent it sparks rivers of curiosity to flow from the reader's mind. Through the provocative relationship between friends Clare and Irene, Larsen manages to captivate the audience with a story full of jealousy, lies, and ultimately betrayal. The story revolves around the protagonist, Irene Redfield's, encounters with Clare Kendry. Irene and Clare are both of mixed ancestry, and as a result have very fair complexions. Clare uses this to escape what she perceives as the"burden" of being a part of the African-American community so that she can advance socially. "You can't know, 'Rene, how, whan I used to go over to the south side, I used almost to hate all of you. You had all the things I wanted and never had had. It made me all the more determined to get them, and others" (26). After not seeing Clare for years, Irene inadvertently runs into her. Irene eventually discovers how Clare chose to ignore her Black heritage, and even married a white man who assumes Clare is white. Following an awkward experience with Clare and her husband, Irene returned home, under the assumption that Clare would never again be a part of her life. This holds true until a letter from Clare leads to Clare making habitual visits to see Irene and her family and accompanying them to parties whenever she can escape her husband's grasp.Read more ›
Comment 27 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Paperback
Written in 1929, PASSING is a product of the Harlem Renaissance. Nella Larsen, a biracial woman, relates the story of Irene Redfield and Clare Kendry. Both are fair skinned black women who can pass for white and grow up together in a black neighborhood. When Clare is orphaned she moves with white relatives and deserts her black heritage. She sees it as the only means of escape from the poverty that she destest. She marries John Bellows, escaping her past and could have disappeared into the white world.

But through a chance meeting, where Irene is also passing for white, they meet after many years of separation. Irene has married a black doctor, who wants to move to Brazil and in effect pass as a latin American. He wants physically out of America while Irene wants out of the racial tensions of America.

Clare is drawn back to her racial roots by some mystery. She can't let go even though she knows it will be the end of her marriage and perhaps the loss of her daughter.

Clare's husband, John Bellows, is a avowed racist who calls Clare "Nig" because he jokes that she is getting darker, totally unaware of her race. Irene and another friend who is also passing endure Bellow's racist remarks but do not respond.

The book takes place over about a 2 year period as Clare flirts with the danger of discovery and also Irene's husband. Irene is in conflict as to whether to reveal the truth to John, which would get Clare out of her life. But she can't bring herself to do it.

The book tells of the conflict of being black and living white; it tells of the interracial circles of Harlem of the 1920's. It's a period of high racial tensions, but yet whites flock to Harlem because some see it as in vogue not because they seek an interracial culture.
Read more ›
6 Comments 21 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse

Set up an Amazon Giveaway

Passing (Penguin Classics)
Amazon Giveaway allows you to run promotional giveaways in order to create buzz, reward your audience, and attract new followers and customers. Learn more about Amazon Giveaway
This item: Passing (Penguin Classics)

What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?

Pages with Related Products. See and discover other items: classic literature, classics literature