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So Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism Paperback – November 1, 2003

ISBN-13: 978-0226873800 ISBN-10: 0226873803

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Editorial Reviews

From the Inside Flap

"So Black and Blue is the best work we have on Ellison in his combined roles of writer, critic, and intellectual. By locating him in the precarious cultural transition between Jim Crow and the era of promised civil rights, Warren has produced a thoroughly engaging and compelling book, original in its treatment of Ellison and his part in shaping the history of ideas in the twentieth century."—Eric J. Sundquist, University of California, Los Angeles

What would it mean to read Invisible Man as a document of Jim Crow America? Using Ralph Ellison's classic novel and many of his essays as starting points, Kenneth W. Warren illuminates the peculiar interrelation of politics, culture, and social scientific inquiry that arose during the post-Reconstruction era and persisted through the Civil Rights movement. Warren argues that Ellison's novel expresses the problem of who or what could represent and speak for the Negro in an age of limited political representation.

So Black and Blue shows that Ellison's successful transformation of these limits into possibilities has also, paradoxically, cast a shadow on the postsegregation world. What can be the direction of African American culture once the limits that have shaped it are stricken down? Here Warren takes up the recent, ongoing, and often contradictory veneration of Ellison's artistry by black writers and intellectuals to reveal the impoverished terms often used in discussions about the political and cultural future of African Americans. Ultimately, by showing what it would mean to take seriously the idea of American novels as creatures of their moment, Warren questions whether there can be anything that deserves the label of classic American literature.

About the Author

Kenneth W. Warren is a professor of English at the University of Chicago. He is the author of Black and White Strangers: Race and American Literary Realism.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 141 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press (November 1, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226873803
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226873800
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,851,417 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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1 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jacques COULARDEAU on November 17, 2004
Format: Paperback
Ralph Ellison is a mythic author. He had a tremendous influence with his essays by imposing two changes in the American mood about the Blacks. First he managed to show and prove that the black slaves were victims of slavery for sure but that they also created, from recollection and from pure creation, a culture that remained clandestine for a long time and enabled them to save their psychological sanity in front of the horrendous fate that was theirs. Second he managed to show and prove that sociologists had a completely wrong picture of the Blacks in America, a negative picture characterized by wants and needs but nothing else, hence social cases that had to be dealt with politically. Instead he developed a positive picture of a rich community with ethics and a culture that had nothing to envy from other communities. What's more he showed how this black culture from gospels to jazz, from novels to poetry, from food to quilts, was an asset for the Blacks in general but also a tremendous incentive and asset for all Americans. Without Jim, the Negro, there would not be any Huckleberry Finn, hence no American novel, or definitely not the same thing. Ralph Ellison was also the author of two novels that demonstrated how culture is able to go beyond a particular situation and to reach universal grounds, because these two novels reached universality. He showed in these novels how an oppressed and exploited community, any ianywhere in the world, builds for themselves a culture that unifies them and how they can use many motivations to get together if they feel that culture and their community are endangered, and this beyond all differences and even antagonisms. This is extremely modern.Read more ›
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So Black and Blue: Ralph Ellison and the Occasion of Criticism
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