Juneteenth Essay & Project Ideas

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John F. Callahan, Ralph Ellison's literary executor and the editor of this novel, quotes Ellison's 1969 description of Juneteenth as his "novel-in-progress (very long in progress)." Apparently the planning stages of this novel date from June of 1951, but it remained unfinished at his death in 1994, though parts of it had been published in magazines. New York Times reviewer Michiko Kakutani observes that this novel "has assumed the status of a literary myth." Ellison clearly intended to publish this novel, but perhaps—as Callahan suggests—doing "his duty on national boards and commissions" interfered with the process of writing and editing this novel. Readers may want to consider what other factors may help to explain the long delay in publication.

At Mrs. Ellison's insistence, Callahan agreed to edit and publish Juneteenth posthumously, but his work has been severely criticized. For example, Kakutani says, "Instead of...

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This section contains 1,109 words
(approx. 3 pages at 400 words per page)
Buy the Juneteenth Study Guide
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Juneteenth from Novels for Students. ©2005-2006 Thomson Gale, a part of the Thomson Corporation. All rights reserved.
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