Wrestling Angels into Song: The Fictions of Ernest J. Gaines and James Alan McPherson

By Herman Beavers | Go to book overview

Notes

Preface
1. Genesis 32:24-32.
2. Kenneth L. Karst, Belonging to America, 4.
3. James Alan McPherson, "On Becoming an American Writer,"54.
4. Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, The Coherence of Gothic Conventions. Sedgwick makes use of these terms to describe how plot unfolds in gothic fiction. I use them here to characterize the respective forms of hibernation and voicelessness Gaines's protagonists experience. Several terms, such as "live burial" and "unspeakability," have been taken from Sedgwick's study.
Introduction
1. Quoted in James Alan McPherson essay, "Junior and John Doe," in Lure and Loathing: Essays on Race, Identity, and the Ambivalence of Assimilation, 175-76. The interview to which McPherson refers may be part of what became "Indivisible Man," which appeared in the Atlantic Monthly in December 1970. Ellison's quote does not appear in that interview, but he makes comments that have a similar ring to those quoted here.
2. James Alan McPherson, interview with Ralph Ellison, "Indivisible Man."
3. Warren's comments are part of Albert Murray's incisive memoir on growing up in the South, South to a Very Old Place, 1971; rpt. 32.
4. Ralph Ellison, "What America Would Be Like Without Blacks," Going to the Territory, 110-11, 1985.
5. Ellison, "Twentieth Century Fiction and the Black Mask of Humanity," Shadow and Act, 26.
6. Werner Sollors, Beyond Ethnicity, 6.
7. Ellison, "On Initiation Rites and Power," Going to the Territory, 42.
8. Ellison, "Perspective of Literature," Going to the Territory, 333.
9. Ibid., 336.
10. Ellison, "The Novel as a Function of American Democracy," Going to the Territory, 316.
11. This reading of the novel is so prevalent as to be nearly a cliché; however, what interests me about this reading (one, by the way, I agree with) is its implication that the hero's failure is the result, in part, of his ambition and his

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