Review by Choice Review
Understanding the distinction between Wright and Ellison is necessary to follow the basis of this excellent study, which offers more insights per page than an earnest reader could hope for. Unlike Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison sought in his work the timeless more than the topical. Ellison's Shadow and Act differentiates work that sacrifices "artistry for protest" from other fiction. Warren (Univ. of Chicago) distinguishes between "grand art" and "artful propaganda" and develops the concepts of cultural pluralism and "transracialism" as they apply to Ellison. A chapter on black politics interweaves spokespersons and writers using "negro" culture as a weapon in the fight for equality. Warren begins with the familiar, explains through researched detail how this material is known, and takes the reader through these details both historically and through the text of Invisible Man ("the putative link between philosophy and the people"). But this is more than an investigation of Ellison's classic novel: a chapter on the South uses Ellison's essays to clarify the writer's position on the "melting pot"; if perceptions of reality imprison white writers, a black culture kept apart from a predominant one imprisons blacks. ^BSumming Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. A. Hirsh emeritus, Central Connecticut State University
Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.