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Invisible Music (Ellison)

In Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man “race” is not simply seen but heard as well. This article addresses the complex interaction of the audible and the visible in the novel and seeks to grasp the dynamics of race in terms of both music and figural language. Music, it is claimed, acts like a figure of speech; it can provide a measure of racial identity but also tends to destabilize any and all identity effects. The essay closes with a meditation on Jeff Wall’s photograph, “After Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison, the Preface.”

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