Traveling from his native home in Jamaica to the Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, Kansas State College, and eventually New York City, Claude McKay became one of the most important voices of the Harlem Renaissance. Today he is largely recognized for his work during the 1920s, which includes a major collection of poems, Harlem Shadows, as well as a critically acclaimed novel, Home to Harlem. But McKay was never completely comfortable with his literary reputation during this period. Beyond Harlem, McKay moved in broader cultural circles that included London, Europe, and Morocco. Throughout his world travels, he saw himself as an English lyricist. In this unique and revealing examination of the life and works of this complex poet, novelist, journalist, and short story writer, Josh Gosciak sheds light on McKay's significant literary contributions beyond his interactions with Harlem Renaissance artists and writers. Trained as an English Romanticist and possessing a fine eye for literary detail, McKay crafted a verse out of hybridity and diaspora.
Gosciak shows how he reinvigorated a modern pastoral through his encounters with some of the major aesthetic and political movements of the late Victorian and early modern periods: Fabianism, internationalism, pacifism, decadence, horticulture, the Arts and Crafts movement, and the vernacular. Exploring new archival material as well as many of McKay's lesser known poetic works, The Shadowed Country provides a unique and provocative interpretation to the literature of this important twentieth-century author.