Prufrock's Page

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Thrice Exhumed

Christopher Benfey evaluates a new biography of Ralph Ellison -- who struggled all his life to come up with a novel as great as his first -- with this fine opening paragraph: "It is a ritual of American publishing that the distinguished literary dead are exhumed three times. First, unfinished drafts, long buried in the drawer or the hard drive, are rushed into print. Second, an official biography exposes the remaining secrets of the great writer's life. And third, intimate letters are collected and offered to a curious public."


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