Orginal Publication Date
Explorations in Sights and Sounds
According to Bell, his book is "a comprehensive sociopsychological, sociocultural interpretive history of the Afro-American novel. It seeks to unearth, identify, describe, and analyze some of the major thematic, stylistic, and structural characteristics of the Afro-American novel from its beginning in 1853 to 1983." This quotation about the book's scope and intention, as well as its title, are indicative of the strengths and weaknesses (mainly the latter) of the entire study. For one thing, it is an understood fact that just as there are African-American experiences, there are also literary traditions. Whereas one study of one tradition (such as Barbara Christian's on black wimmin novelists) would be another much needed work, Bell's title, alone, suggests that he has homogenized Afro-American literature. Then, the scope and intention of the above quotation are entirely too grandoise [grandiose], too all-encompassing, for one book (maybe a multi-volume work could, eventually, cover all these angles). In short, the book unfortunately attempts to live up to its goals. Bell tries to address all the issues he raises, but in the process, only raises more concerns and questions.
Copyright, ©EES, The National Association for Ethnic Studies, 1989