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In Search of SoulHip-Hop, Literature, and Religion$
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Alejandro Nava

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780520293533

Published to California Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.1525/california/9780520293533.001.0001

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The Souls of Black Folk

The Souls of Black Folk

Ralph Ellison’s Tragicomic Portrait

5 The Souls of Black Folk
In Search of Soul

Alejandro Nava

University of California Press

This chapter explores some of the synergies between Spanish soul and black American traditions through Ralph Ellison's depiction of soul. In turning to Ellison, a contemporary of Lorca, this chapter falls in the thick of musical and cultural currents of soul. Like many black writers of the twentieth century, Ellison brought musical cadences and flows into the mighty river of American literature, injecting some of its stagnant waters with a fresh tributary of style. By adding his lyrical voice to American literature, he used his pen the way black musicians used their instruments, making it sing on behalf of a black American experience that was invisible in many parts of America. He not only honored conceptions of soul in black music, folklore, literature, and religion in this way, but also simultaneously exposed the blindness and tone deafness of many Americans.

Keywords:   Ralph Ellison, Spanish soul, Federico García Lorca, African American traditions, black writers, American literature, black American experience, African American soul

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