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This casebook features ten distinctive and provocative essays in addition to a generous sampling of Ellison's comments on the novel. A number of the latter are from letters never before published; also published here for the first time is Part II of Ellison's "Working Notes on Invisible Man," an undated exposition of his authorial intentions, probably written in 1946 or 1947.
The ten essays are a selection of the most perceptive and comprehensive essays written on Invisible Man during the last thirty-five years, including an essay by Kenneth Burke, which began as a letter to Ellison about the novel, written before its publication in 1952. Also among the essays is Larry Neal's "Ellison's Zoot Suit," in which he finds the novel an exemplary enactment in fiction of the "black aesthetic."
The essays explore topics of narrative form, classical and vernacular points of reference, and the relationship between the themes of love and politics. Taken together with Ellison's "Working Notes" and later commentary on the novel, these essays account for the continuing appeal of Invisible Man more than fifty years after its publication. An editor's introduction and a full bibliography accompany the essays, selections from Ellison's writings, and informal statements on his novel. The volume offers a rich variety of interpretations of Invisible Man for students and scholars of Ellison.
Introduction, John F. Callahan
Part I Prologue: Ralph Ellison on Invisible Man
Part II Critical Essays on Invisible Man
1. Ralph Ellison's Trueblooded Bildungsroman, Kenneth Burke
2. Ellison's Zoot Suit, Larry Neal
3. Ellison's Vision of Communitas, Nathan A. Scott, Jr.
4. Ralph Ellison, Race, and American Culture, Morris Dickstein
5. The Rules of Magic: Hemingway as Ellison's "Ancestor", Robert G. O'Meally
6. The Meaning of Narration in Invisible Man, Valerie Smith
7. The Conscious Hero and the Rites of Man: Ellison's War, John S. Wright
8. Notes on the Invisible Women in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Claudia Tate
9. Luminosity from the Lower Frequencies, Leon Forrest
10. Ellison's Invisible Man, John F. Callahan
Part III Epilogue
On Initiation Rites and Power: A Lecture at West Point, Ralph Ellison