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Figures in Black: Words, Signs, and the Racial Self Paperback – 1 Nov 1989

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"The originality, brilliance, and scope of the work is remarkable....Gates will instruct, delight, and stimulate a broad range of readers, both those who are already well versed in [African-American] literature, and those who, after reading this book, will eagerly begin to be."--Barbara E. Johnson, Harvard University"Henry Louis Gates Jr. is establishing himself as the leading critic of Afro-American literature and his new book, Figures in Black, will certainly confirm his standing. Gates's brilliance lies in fulfilling an exceptionally difficult task: that of interpreting this body of literature through contemporary critical theory without losing sight of its tradition. These new essays thus combine historical breadth with critical insight....Figures in Black is one of the year's most outstanding critical studies."--Year's Work in English STudies"A critical enterprise of the first importance....Gates promises to lead and to show the way in boldness of conception, in vigor of execution, and in vitality and pertinence of expression."--James Olney, Louisiana State University"Figures in Black is an important work in the evolution of the [African-American] literary tradition, and provides some important prolegomena for the future of the criticism of [African-American] literature. Gates is at his best as a critic of criticism, when he reflects upon and clarifies the underlying ideological assumptions of the critical activity itself, and he is also astute in his application of the critical principles which he unearths."--MELUS (Journal of the Society for the Study of the Multi-Ethnic Literature of the United States)"An extremely important...contribution to the study of [African-American] literature...there can be no doubt of Gates' crucial contributions as a literary historian."--Choice"Entertaining and dramatic."--The Village Voice Literary Supplement"Not only a series of provocative and original readings...but also much else of interest to students of black-white intellectual and literary history....Of the seminal importance of Figures in Black there can be no doubt."--American Literature"The recognition of the critical sophistication of African-American literature and cultural expressions as well as recognition of the often unremarked blackness of antinomian critical thought are signal developments of the past decade, and [this book is a] signal contribution to elaborations of such insights."--English Language Notes

About the Author

Henry Louis Gates, Jr. is Chairman of the Department of Afro-American Studies and W.E.B. Du Bois Professor of the Humanities at Harvard University. He is the author of The Signifying Monkey, Loose Canons, and Colored People; general editor of The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black WomenWriters; and general editor of The W.E.B. Du Bois Institute series.

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Samuel Johnson wrote that much that appears foolish in human behavior can be traced to one cause: the failure to imitate those we least resemble. Read the first page
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