Soft Cover. [s.l.]: Reprinted from the Antioch Review, Summer 1945. 1st Edition. Near Fine.
First separate edition. Publisher's white paper wrappers, lettered in black. About near fine, with some light toning and faint soiling to the wrappers, minor chip to the spine tail, a few faint stains to the otherwise clean pages. Overall, a very clean and attractive copy of this exceedingly scarce publication. This essay was first published in The Antioch Review in the Summer of 1945 and was republished from a newly set text for this separate format. However, as the wrappers only cite the details of the original serial, it is difficult to say whether this publication is also from 1945 or from 1952 (based on the nondescript "52" next to the publisher's slug on the rear wrapper). Regardless, Richard Wright's Blues is a scarce and important text in Ellison's oeuvre, published before (or in the same year) he achieved literary fame for Invisible Man (1952). Only five copies are listed in OCLC's WorldCat. Richard Wright's Blues is Ellison's review of Richard Wright's then recently published autobiography, Black Boy, which tells of the author's childhood in Mississippi and coming of age in Chicago. Throughout the essay, Ellison uses the Blues, itself an artistic expression of the Southern African-American experience, as a focal point to examine Black Boy and to place it within the larger context of the historical expression of the collective African-American experience. As Ellison explains, "The Blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one's aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy, but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism. As a form, the Blues is an autobiographical chronicle of personal catastrophe expressed lyrically." He argues that Black Boy is Wright's expression of the struggle of growing up African-American in the United States.