The Hero and the Blues

Paperback (1st Vintage Books ed)
$13.23 price
(Save 11%)$15.00 List Price
Other sellers (Paperback)
  • All (16) from $5.84   
  • New (9) from $8.94   
  • Used (7) from $5.84   
The Hero and the Blues

Available on NOOK devices and apps  
  • NOOK Devices
  • Samsung Galaxy Tab 4 NOOK
  • NOOK HD/HD+ Tablet
  • NOOK
  • NOOK Color
  • NOOK Tablet
  • Tablet/Phone
  • NOOK for Windows 8 Tablet
  • NOOK for iOS
  • NOOK for Android
  • NOOK Kids for iPad
  • PC/Mac
  • NOOK for Windows 8
  • NOOK for PC
  • NOOK for Mac
  • NOOK for Web

Want a NOOK? Explore Now

NOOK Book (eBook)
$11.99 price

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"[Albert Murray] is possessed of the poet's language, the novelist's sensibility, the essayist's clarity, the jazzman's Imagination, the gospel singer's depth of feeling."

— The New Yorker

In this visionary book, the author of the legendary Stomping the Blues takes an audacious new look at black music and, in the process, succeeds in changing the way we read all literature. Albert Murray's subject is the previously unacknowledged kinship between fiction and the blues. Both, he argues, are virtuoso performances that impart information, wisdom, and moral guidance to their audiences. Both place a high value on improvisation. And both fiction and the blues create a delicate balance between the holy and the obscene, essential human values and cosmic absurdity.

Encompassing artists from Ernest Hemingway to Duke Ellington, and from Thomas Mann to Richard Wright, The Hero and the Blues is at once an homage and a manifesto for a new black aesthetic. Erudite, eloquent, appreciative, and iconoclastic, it is further evidence of Murray's ability to turn the essay into a kind of poetry — as enchanting as it is instructive.

"The size of his reputation is incommensurate with his quality .... Murray is as close to a classic nineteenth-century man of letters as one might find in this country today."

— Boston Globe

Library Journal
Murray's 1973 book analyzes the connection between blues, literature, and the African American's place in society.
Sacred Fire
According to Murray in The Hero and the Blues, in literature "storybook images are indispensable to the basic human processes of world comprehension and self-definition.... the most delicately wrought short stories and the most elaborately textured novels, along with the homespun anecdotes, parables, fables, tales, legends, and sagas, are as strongly motivated by immediate educational objectives as are signs, labels... and directives. ... To make the telling more effective is to make the tale more to the point, more meaningful, and in consequence, if not coincidentally, more useful. Nor is the painter or the musician any less concerned than the writer with achieving a telling effect."

So begins Murray's three-part essay to writers, editors, educators, publishers, reviewers, and teachers, scolding them for having forgotten that "fiction of its very nature is most germane and useful not when it restricts itself to... social and political agitation and propaganda.., but when it performs the fundamental and universal functions of literature." Murray, an academician and historian, believed that literature established the context for social and political action. And that the writer, who created stories or narrated incidents that embodied aspects of human nature not only described them but also suggested possibilities thai could contribute most to people's welfare.

Calling on Dostoyevsky, Hemingway, Thomas Mann, Marx Freud, Malcolm X, Eldridge Cleaver, Count Basic, Duke Elling ton, and many others to support his premise, Murray's slim but sweeping narrative praises the artist, writer, and musician as soda commentator and educator, as long as he doesn't venture far from his storytelling roots.

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780679762201
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 1/28/1996
  • Edition description: 1st Vintage Books ed
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 112
  • Sales rank: 1,446,365
  • Product dimensions: 5.20 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)