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The Cambridge Companion to Ralph Ellison

by Ross Posnock

Ralph Ellison's classic 1952 novel Invisible Man is one of the most important and controversial novels in the American canon and remains widely read and studied. This Companion provides the most up-to-date introduction to this influential and significant novelist and critic and to his masterpiece. It features newly commissioned essays, a chronology and a guide to further reading. The essays reveal new dimensions of Ellison's art radiating out from Invisible Man into new domains - technology, political theory, law, photography, music, religion - and recover the compelling urgency and relevance of Ellison's political and artistic vision. Since Ellison's death his published oeuvre has been expanded by several major volumes - his collected essays, the fragment of a novel, Juneteenth (1999), letters and short stories - examined here in the context of his life and work. Students and scholars of Ellison and of American and African-American literature will find this an invaluable and accessible guide.

Philip Roth's Rude Truth

by Ross Posnock

Has anyone ever worked harder and longer at being immature than Philip Roth? The novelist himself pointed out the paradox, saying that after establishing a reputation for maturity with two earnest novels, he "worked hard and long and diligently" to be frivolous--an effort that resulted in the notoriously immature Portnoy's Complaint (1969). Three-and-a-half decades and more than twenty books later, Roth is still at his serious "pursuit of the unserious." But his art of immaturity has itself matured, developing surprising links with two traditions of immaturity--an American one that includes Emerson, Melville, and Henry James, and a late twentieth-century Eastern European one that developed in reaction to totalitarianism. In Philip Roth's Rude Truth--one of the first major studies of Roth's career as a whole--Ross Posnock examines Roth's "mature immaturity" in all its depth and richness. Philip Roth's Rude Truth will force readers to reconsider the narrow categories into which Roth has often been slotted--laureate of Newark, New Jersey; junior partner in the firm Salinger, Bellow, Mailer, and Malamud; Jewish-American regionalist. In dramatic contrast to these caricatures, the Roth who emerges from Posnock's readable and intellectually vibrant study is a great cosmopolitan in the tradition of Henry James and Milan Kundera.

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