Review by Choice Review
Ellison's place in American letters is fixed, for better or worse, on one novel, Invisible Man (1952). The "better" part is that Invisible Man is a superb and compelling novel; the "worse" part is that the much-discussed and anticipated second novel (never completed) became both a public and private struggle. Thus, the questions about Ellison's gifts as a novelist and about his commitment to political action during the Civil Rights Movement remain unanswered and unanswerable. The questions about racial commitment are, perhaps, unfair, but they remain nonetheless. Rice (Shorter College) attempts not so much to answer these questions as to shed light on the discussion. He examines evidence from Ellison's own pen, both directed statements from his essays and undirected statements from his novels. Rice's approach is reasonably direct, a feat given the complex and sometimes confusing material he is working with. The casual or nonspecialist reader will find the discussion slow and difficult, but those versed in Ellison, African American literature, and of the art of the novel per se will find this a useful contribution to the literature. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. J. A. Zoller Houghton College
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