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Shadow and Act Paperback – March 14, 1995

5.0 out of 5 stars 4 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

These three volumes have been redesigned and reissued to commemorate the first anniversary of Ellison's death.

Copyright 1995 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

Ralph Ellison examines his antecedents and in so doing illuminates the literature, music, and culture of both black and white America.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; Reissue edition (March 14, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0679760008
  • ISBN-13: 978-0679760009
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.7 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #553,759 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Format: Paperback
not merely a statement on being a black man in america, but on being a man period. ellison is not a militant negro nor is he a white man's negro. he is a free spirit who keeps his mind open to art , music, and life. i loved all the essays. he had cosmopolitan background growing up in oklahoma city, the product of middle-class parents. he read all types of literature, not just one kind and became a writer, simply by accident. his true love was his music. the middle third of this book proves this is the essays he wrote about jazz and opera, especially his loving tributes to milton's playhouse and charlie parker. he was a true renaissance man, who never lost the common touch. conquering any challenge that came his way...
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Format: Paperback
Ralph Ellison, the musician and the author of the extrememly well-conceieved and paced novel "Invisible Man" (a rare instance wherein the plotting falls perfectly in sync with the decsriptive; falling, as with the eloquence and precision of the inernal mechanics into the ornate casing of a timepiece; a statement as much as a parody concering perceptions), here provides many surprises, all attesting to the immensity of his talents and array of his interests: There are articles on Jazz, BeBop, and some of best first-hand renderings upon the scene as it had developed at a period between literal non-accepatnce to a greater receptability; Eliot, as in the author's pechant and interest for the motifs, messages and stylistic of "The Wasteland"; Faulkner and the South; Historic American literary recurrances involving language, rythmic and individual, and some very valuable and erudite selections whose range -both autobiographic and literary- are as indispensable as they are of true merit and eloquence. This edition (and it is a shame there had not been more!), legitimizes the talents and perspectives of a gifted author whose legacy -although saddly never fully realized- shall always stand above any field of the discordant (as in the Wasteland), ringing more true than any pause between a jazz riff's sometimes-disquieting
strains.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
The ‘labyrinthine existence among street that explode monotonously skyward with spires and crosses of churches and clutter under foot with garbage and decay” where “surreal fantasies” are acted out is how Ellison saw Harlem. It is eye-opening to read essays from post-War America and compare to present day interpersonal and psychic (as in psyche not fortune telling) conditions of people of color in the US.
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Format: Paperback
This book never disappoints, even when you disagree with it. The book is divided into three sections, the first, by far the longest, mostly contains essays on literature and Ellison's life -- basically what made him the writer he became. It's fascinating to read these accounts now, what with the knowledge that Ellison was never to complete another novel. (although Ellison's "3 Days Before the Shooting" is worthwhile reading in its own right, for the promise and potential it shows in the various set-pieces Ellison writes - and it's fair to put "3 Days" up there as one of the great unfinished novels) The second section on jazz gives us a deeper idea of Ellison's aesthetic, and we start to understand how Ellison's jazz aesthetic influenced his fiction, and even his essays. The third and final section contains a handful of sociological essays, which remain interesting for Ellison's prose style, even if they don't burn with the fire of essays by writers like Baldwin or Baraka.

Ellison's main concern after all was with his art and his aesthetic, and so it's in these essays where he's really at his most engaging. Always interested in a dialectical approach, essays such as "The World and the Jug" explain the context in which they were written, and refer the reader to the opposing points of view. This dialectical approach is also used in the interview-style essays in the book and in the general questing - questioning approach the book as a whole takes. In this way, it's perfectly logical and acceptable that Ellison sometimes contradicts statements and opinions he's made in a previous essay. The book, in its searching, is always in a state of becoming, and so it always remains fresh, and some of this quality carries over into the manuscript(s) of "3 Days" -- which is why the later novel can feel complete in its incompleteness.
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