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o vertly political standards, rating each work according to
the notions of Black identity which it propounds.
Although fiction assuredly springs from political
circumstances, its authors react to those circumstances in
ways other than ideological, and talking about novels and
stories primarily as instruments of ideology circumvents
much of the fictional enterprise. Rosenblatt‘s literary
15 analysis discloses affinities and connections among works
of Black fiction which solely political studies have
o verlooked or ignored. Writing acceptable criticism of
Black fiction, however, presupposes giving satisfactory
answers to a number of questions. First of all, is there a
20 sufficient reason, other than the racial identity of the
authors, to group together works by Black authors?
Second, how does Black fiction make itself distinct from
other modern fiction with which it is largely
contemporaneous? Rosenblatt shows that Black fiction
25 constitutes a distinct body of writing that has an
identifiable, coherent literary tradition. Looking at novels
written by Blacks over the last eighty years, he discovers
recurring concerns and designs independent of
chronology. These structures are thematic, and they
30 spring, not surprisingly, from the central fact that the
Black characters in these novels exist in a predominantly
White culture, whether they try to conform to that culture
of rebel against it.
Black Fiction does leave some aesthetic questions
35 open. Rosenblatt‘s thematic analysis permits considerable
objectivity; he even explicitly states that it is not his
intention to judge the merit of the various works— yet his
reluctance seems misplaced, especially since an attempt
to appraise might have led to interesting results. For
40 instance, some of the novels appear to be structurally
diffuse. Is this a defect, or are the authors working out of,
or trying to forge, a different kind of aesthetic? In
addition, the style of some Black novels, like Jean
Toomer‘s Cane, verges on expressionism or surrealism;
45 does this technique provide a counterpoint to the
prevalent theme that portrays the fate against which Black
heroes are pitted, a theme usually con veyed by more naturalistic modes of expression?
In spite of such omissions, what Rosenblatt does
50 include in his discussion makes for an astute and
worthwhile study. Black Fiction surveys a wide variety
of novels, bringing to our attention in the process some
fascinating and little-known works like James Weldon
Johnson‘s Autobiography of an Ex-Colored Man. Its
55 argument is tightly constructed, and its forthright, lucid
style exemplifies levelheaded and penetrating criticism. 20 3. The author of the passage objects to criticism of 5. The author of the passage believes that Black Black fiction like that by Addison Gayle Fiction would have been improved had because it Rosenblatt (A) emphasizes purely literary aspects of such (A) evaluated more carefully the ideological fiction and historical aspect...
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This document was uploaded on 09/16/2013.
- Fall '13