Ralph Ellison: Emergence of Genius

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University of Georgia Press, 2007 - Biography & Autobiography - 498 pages
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Author, intellectual, and social critic, Ralph Ellison (1914-94) was a pivotal figure in American literature and history and arguably the father of African American modernism. Universally acclaimed for his first novel, Invisible Man, a masterpiece of modern fiction, Ellison was recognized with a stunning succession of honors, including the 1953 National Book Award. Despite his literary accomplishments and political activism, however, Ellison has received surprisingly sparse treatment from biographers. Lawrence Jackson’s biography of Ellison, the first when it was published in 2002, focuses on the author’s early life.

Powerfully enhanced by rare photographs, this work draws from archives, literary correspondence, and interviews with Ellison’s relatives, friends, and associates. Tracing the writer’s path from poverty in dust bowl Oklahoma to his rise among the literary elite, Jackson explores Ellison’s important relationships with other stars, particularly Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, and examines his previously undocumented involvement in the Socialist Left of the 1930s and 1940s, the black radical rights movement of the same period, and the League of American Writers. The result is a fascinating portrait of a fraternal cadre of important black writers and critics--and the singularly complex and intriguing man at its center.

 

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Ralph Ellison: emergence of genius

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Unlike his contemporary Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison was slow to make his grand entry into the literary world. But after working for six agonizing years on his best-known novel, Invisible Man ... Read full review

Contents

Geography Is Fate 19131916
1
Renaissance Man 19161925
23
The Horn of Plenty 19251932
54
Down South 19321933
83
The Trumpet and a Barrel of Crabs 19331935
98
The Wasteland 19351936
132
OneWinged Flying 19361938
161
Is Politics an Expression of Love? 19381941
198
African American Thoreau 1946
326
Absurdly an Invisible Man 1947
349
Progressive Isolation 1948
369
Time Stands Still 1949
392
Cold War and Inauthentic Blacks 1950
408
The Black Kafka and the Fight against Reality 1951
421
The Briar Patch 19521953
432
Notes
445

New Negro at Negro Quarterly 19411942
253
Labor of Love 19431944
282
Portrait of the Artist as a Young Critic 1945
304

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About the author (2007)

Lawrence P. Jackson is an associate professor of African American studies and English at Emory University. He was awarded a Ford Foundation Fellowship and was Resident Fellow at Harvard’s W. E. B. Du Bois Institute while completing this book.

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