Review by Choice Review
In the decades since its publication, Invisible Man (1952) has gained a reputation so immense, has earned so solid a place in the canon of US literature, and has made its author so revered that one cannot imagine Ellison criticism as anything other than laudatory from the beginning. That said, reservations, resistance, and rancor have long accompanied accolades in this criticism, so students and scholars of Ellison's work need to gain appropriate perspective. Butler (Canisius College) supplies just such perspective, collecting (and assessing in his helpful introductory essay) a range of critical responses to Ellison/Invisible Man, beginning with the first important reviews by such critics as Irving Howe, Saul Bellow, Richard Chase, Alain Locke, and R.W.B. Lewis. Butler provides historical and authorial perspective in sections that cover contemporary readings of Invisible Man, evaluations of Ellison's short fiction and nonfiction, and useful posthumous assessments by Stanley Crouch, John F. Callahan, James F. Tuttleton, and Robert J. Butler. Abundantly demonstrating his thesis that the basic questions and concerns of Ellison criticism have been present from the first, Butler has provided a most important collection for scholars of African American literature as well as of Ellison. J. A. Zoller; Houghton College
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.