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The Signifying Monkey: A Theory of African-American Literary Criticism: Theory of Afro-American Literary Criticism Paperback – 14 Dec 1989

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'The appearance of The Signifying Monkey will be one of the most significant events in the development of Afro-American studies in the next decade. Bold, ambitious, original ... An important contributuon, not only to the study of Afro-American literature, but to the whole enterprise of 'literary theory' as it applies to any literature whatsoever. This is a brilliant book, and it deserves to be read widely.' (Critical Inquiry)

'an important book ... The Signifying Monkey displays an impressive array of scholarship coupled with a wide-ranging knowledge of diverse materials and a visible creative energy which synthesises these into a coherent and convincing thesis. ... an immensely stimulating work which deserves a wide readership.' (Reviews in American Studies)

'Apart from suggesting new ways of looking at black literature, this original work is a singular contribution to linguistocs, anthropology and rhetoric. Notwithstanding the considerable resources upon which he bases his case, Gates works with a lightness of touch and a style of reasoning that makes the exercise of following the construction of his argument most exciting and provocative.' (The Tribune)

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 Figures in Black, Loose Canons, and Colored People; general editor of The Schomburg Library of Nineteenth-Century Black Women Writers; and general editor of The W.E.B. Du Bois Institute series.

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First Sentence
The black Africans who survived the dreaded "Middle Passage" from the west coast of Africa to the New World did not sail alone. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 6 reviews
22 of 23 people found the following review helpful
Groundbreaking 2 Oct. 1998
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
I purchased Gates' "Signifying Monkey" and found myself nodding at almost every paragraph. I was nodding in appreciation of the clarity, nodding in recognition of meaning that I had lost that freshman year but eventually found upon reading "The Signifying Monkey", and nodding because literary theory was being applied to African-American literature. Mimesis and Gates finally came together. The chapter on the trope of the "talking book" is my favorite. Bakhtin (did I spell that correctly?) himself a literary theorist became even more palatable as a result of my reading this text. I'm glad that I own this book. I'm constantly referring to it. It's turned into a "pleasure-reading" book for me. It can for you as well. Thanks Professor Gates
1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
A fine book. 5 Dec. 2012
By Stephen Miller - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is a fine piece of literary scholarship. It really created a whole way of looking at texts. I use it every year in my Postcolonial Studies class. More examples from popular culture could help.
7 of 14 people found the following review helpful
An Important Work on the African Roots of American Folklore 24 May 2002
By Stephen M. Kerwick - Published on
Format: Paperback
Professor Gates' tome on the Signifying Monkey is a thoughtful and fascinating exposition on some of the West African sources of American folklore that are seldom appreciated as a result of the forced expatriations involved in the slave trade. Unfortunately, the book is just slightly dry unless accompanied by a first rate recitation of the Signifying Monkey legend as it is retold in the milieu of the Twentieth Century African American "Toast." I am delighted to report that this can now be experienced by newcomers through the wonderful performance of Rudy Ray Moore, which is available on the CD Greatest Hits. When Dr. Gates' reader is able to reread his Signifying Monkey in light of Mr. Ray Moore's, a whole new world of perception and enjoyment will follow. The synergy of these two works is splendid and neither one is quite so valuable without the other.
2 of 6 people found the following review helpful
scholarly 22 April 2009
By RKonklinjr - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Gates provides patented scholarship to "ethnic" writing that is all too often dismissed as somehow less studied than mainstream literature.
0 of 4 people found the following review helpful
cheap 2 Jan. 2013
By giordano angela - Published on
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Well-kept book, like new! I've searched this book for months in the libraries and online but this was the lowest price I've ever found!
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