Abstract

While at the top of her professional career, Nella Larsen became embroiled in an ugly plagiarism controversy, accused of appropriating the work of British writer, Sheila Kaye-Smith. The case involved Larsen's 1930 short story "Sanctuary" and Kaye-Smith's 1922 "Mrs. Adis." Though editors exonerated Larsen, the consequences for her career were devastating; Larsen never published again. Considering the deluge of scholarship available on Larsen's other works, the small quantity of analyses focused on "Sanctuary" suggests critics may be shying away from the text because of its blemished history. Such critical neglect is both disappointing and unwarranted. For what has been deemed over the years Larsen's transgression may be termed, more accurately, Larsen's adaptation. In recasting Kaye-Smith's original tale of the trials of the British working class to depict the racial, social, and economic barriers of the American South, Larsen engaged in a widely recognized literary mode particularly common to African-American theater of the period.

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Additional Information

ISSN
1529-1464
Print ISSN
0022-281X
Pages
pp. 82-104
Launched on MUSE
2007-10-30
Open Access
No
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