Ralph Ellison (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
Ralph Ellison’s novel Invisible Man was an immediate sensation in the literary world. White critics were enthusiastic, but black critics accused Ellison of unfairly stereotyping African Americans. Until the publication of Invisible Man, the leading black writers of the mid-twentieth century were Richard Wright, author of Native Son (1940), and poet Langston Hughes. While both Wright and Hughes mentored young Ellison and helped launch his writing career, Ellison eventually moved beyond their influence to discover his unique fictional voice. Invisible Man, employing myth, fantasy, and symbolism, was recognized as a breakthrough that changed the face of African American literature in the twentieth century.
Ellison and his wife Fanny saved the voluminous correspondence, journals, and notes that record the details of his life and placed them in the Library of Congress. Arnold Rampersad, author of biographies of Jackie Robinson and Langston Hughes and editor of several African American literary anthologies, made extensive use of the Ellisons’ collected papers. He also conducted numerous interviews with Ellison’s contemporaries. Rampersad’s scholarly interpretation of this material has been frequently cited as the definitive treatment of Ellison’s life and work.
The question that has intrigued Ellison’s readerswhy was he unable to complete the lengthy manuscript of his second novel?is not Rampersad’s...
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
American Scholar 76, no. 2 (Spring, 2007): 121-126.
Commentary 124, no. 3 (October, 2007): 67-70.
The Humanist 67, no. 6 (November/December, 2007): 38-40.
The Nation 284, no. 21 (May 28, 2007): 11-18.
The New Republic 236, no. 18 (June 18, 2007): 48-51.
The New York Review of Books 54, no. 10 (June 14, 2007): 56-58.
The New York Times Book Review 156 (May 20, 2007): 18-19.
Publishers Weekly 254, no. 10 (March 5, 2007): 54.
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