Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man

by Lucas E. Morel
Pub. Date:
University Press of Kentucky
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Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope: A Political Companion to Invisible Man

An important new collection of original essays that examine how Ellison's landmark novel, Invisible Man (1952), addresses the social, cultural, political, economic, and racial contradictions of America. Commenting on the significance of Mark Twain's writings, Ralph Ellison wrote that "a novel could be fashioned as a raft of hope, perception and entertainment that might help keep us afloat as we tried to negotiate the snags and whirlpools that mark our nation's vacillating course toward and away from the democratic ideal." Ellison believed it was the contradiction between America's "noble ideals and the actualities of our conduct" that inspired the most profound literature — "the American novel at its best." Drawing from the fields of literature, politics, law, and history, the contributors make visible the political and ethical terms of Invisible Man, while also illuminating Ellison's understanding of democracy and art. Ellison hoped that his novel, by providing a tragicomic look at American ideals and mores, would make better citizens of his readers. The contributors also explain Ellison's distinctive views on the political tasks and responsibilities of the novelist, an especially relevant topic as contemporary writers continue to confront the American incongruity between democratic faith and practice. Ralph Ellison and the Raft of Hope uniquely demonstrates why Invisible Man stands as a premier literary meditation on American democracy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780813191621
Publisher: University Press of Kentucky
Publication date: 03/15/2012
Pages: 264
Product dimensions: 0.60(w) x 6.00(h) x 9.00(d)

Table of Contents

Prologue: Recovering the Political Artistry of Invisible Man1
Chapter 1Affirming the Principle22
Chapter 2Ralph Ellison on the Tragi-Comedy of Citizenship37
Chapter 3Ralph Ellison's American Democratic Individualism58
Chapter 4Invisible Man and Juneteenth: Ralph Ellison's Literary Pursuit of Racial Justice91
Chapter 5Invisible Man as "a form of social power": The Evolution of Ralph Ellison's Politics105
Chapter 6Invisible Man as Literary Analog to Brown v. Board of Education119
Chapter 7Ralph Ellison and the Problem of Cultural Authority: The Lessons of Little Rock142
Chapter 8Ralph Ellison and the Invisibility of the Black Intellectual: Historical Reflections on Invisible Man158
Chapter 9The Litany of Things: Sacrament and History in Invisible Man171
Chapter 10Documenting Turbulence: The Dialectics of Chaos in Invisible Man193
Epilogue: The Lingering Question of Personality and Nation in Invisible Man: "And could politics ever be an expression of love?"218
Works Cited230

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