IMAGES OF THE NEGRO IN AMERICAN LITERATURE by

IMAGES OF THE NEGRO IN AMERICAN LITERATURE

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The fundamental misfortune of this anthology is expressed in the otherwise innocent title of its bibliography, ""A Checklist of Criticism and Scholarship."" The scholars who labor so assiduously to make bricks from the straws of our literary history never cross over to the Promised Land where the ""critics"" reside, where movement is not mistaken for action, and, just as in real life, the work of a lifetime or even centuries can be summed up in a single, burning glance. Milton Cantor on ""The Image of the Negro in Colonial Literature,"" Tremaine McDowell on ""The Negro in the Southern Novel Prior to 1850,"" Therodore L. Gross on ""The Negro in the Literature of the Reconstruction,"" Sidney Kaplan on Melville's treatment of Negro characters, and others do only journeymen's labor. It is in the heart-piercing perceptions of the essay by novelist Ralph Ellison (""Twentieth Century Fiction and the Black Mask of Humanity"") and the singing rhetoric and kidney-thumping conclusions of writer James Baldwin's ""Many Thousands Gone"" where the reader learns some truths about his literature and his society. Essays by Irving Howe on Faulkner and Marcus Klein on Ellison are two other worthy pieces. But all of the best in the collection have appeared before in hard cover, in their authors' own gathered writings. The rest is the product of men still in bondage to mere facts.

Publisher: University of Chicago