Joseph R. Urgo's Novel Frames: Literature As Guide to Race, Sex, and History PDF

By Joseph R. Urgo

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Additional info for Novel Frames: Literature As Guide to Race, Sex, and History in American Culture (Studies in Popular Culture)

Sample text

Doesn't Invisible Man always know what he should do? Isn't the solution to his various predicaments always obvious? On this level, at least, the novel is as "realistic" as black and white. The novel itself, of course, moves without explanation or guide among various levels of "realist" narration: reportage, surrealism, analogy, fableand it gives each level equal credence, lends to each the same level of narrative authority. The surreal experience in the factory hospital is no less authoritative in its presentation than is the Brotherhood cocktail party.

Boundary 2 XV (1, 2) (Fall 1986/Winter 1987): 1-22. Zimmer, Heinrich. The King and the Corpse: Tales of the Soul's Conquest of Evil. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1957 [1948]. Page 3 I THE RACIAL SELF Page 5 Chapter 1 Contemplating the Unthinkable: The Myth of Racial Existence in Ralph Ellison's America The master artisans of the South were slaves, and white Americans have been walking Negro walks, talking Negro flavored talk (and prizing it when spoken by Southern belles), dancing Negro dances and singing Negro melodies far too long to speak of a 'mainstream' of American culture to which they're alien.

The formalistic point is clear: The reader cannot tell what kind of "content" he is dealing with until he has become involved in the narrative itself. The words, like skin, are highly visible; the essential meaning (Louis Armstrong's ''I" in "What did I do to be so black and blue") is invisibleor impenetrable by formal method, or logic. American Identities Invisible Man is not an orderly storyafter all, what exactly is it about? A few years in an unnamed black man's life, strutting and jiving from one bizarre incident to the next, beginning and ending in a hole in the ground.

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Novel Frames: Literature As Guide to Race, Sex, and History in American Culture (Studies in Popular Culture) by Joseph R. Urgo


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