Cover

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Frontmatter

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Contents

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Preface

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pp. ix-x

It goes a long way back, some twenty years." Thus begins chapter 1 of Invisible Man, and thus begins this book on Invisible Man, which is being published almost twenty years to the day from the time I wrote, as an undergraduate at Brooklyn College, my first words on Ellison's novel. The assignment was to compare two books, at least one of which had to...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xiii

In recent years, the issue of canon formation has attracted a great deal of attention, a phenomenon not incidental to the influence on literary study of poststructuralism, feminism, and ethnic consciousness. At the risk of oversimplifying, we could say that these approaches mandate modes of thinking which urge distance and skepticism, modes which...

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1. The Origins of Invisibility

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pp. 1-26

Iver the thirty or forty years which preceded the writing of Invisible Man, Arnerican criticism can be fairly-if somewhat simplistically-divided into two main camps or, to use Grant Webster's term, "charters." I The older charter I shall, for convenience, call Progressivist Criticism, a perfect example of which can be found at the conclusion of Van Wyck...

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2. Translating Tradition

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pp. 27-62

Since much of my study of Invisible Man relies not only on a complex understanding of Ralph Ellison's use of allusion but also on an understanding of allusion in general, it is necessary now to take an extended look at that literary device so heavily employed by Ellison's stylistic mentors, Eliot and Joyce. This is especially necessary because...

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3. Tod Clifton: Spiritual and Carnal

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pp. 63-84

I want to approach Invisible Man by asking a simple question: who is Tod Clifton? Perhaps the simplest answer is "a character in Invisible Man." That answer, like any other answer, as simple as it may be, implies assumptions. The first, of course, is that I am asking a literary question. Otherwise, the answer might come from a Who's Who directory, a...

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4. Invisible Man in the Golden Day

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pp. 85-103

The next allusion in Invisible Man that I am going to discuss at length is the term "Golden Day." Putting aside, momentarily, the allusory significance of the term, we can safely say that within the structure of the novel, the name, the image, the place haunts the narrator. One of his obsessions is to discover what went wrong in the Golden...

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5. Invisible Criticism: Melville and Emerson Revised

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pp. 104-123

Now that we have seen how Ellison's allusions to Lewis Mumford force us to reevaluate Mumford's text, we have a context wherein we can examine the effect of his allusions on the two authors who represent, for Mumford, the major figures at the opposite ends of his golden spectrum: Melville and...

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6. Invisible Man, Huck, and Jim

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pp. 124-146

Albert Bigelow Paine, in his 1912 three-volume biography of Mark Twain, said of Huckleberry Finn, "it is built of indestructible blocks of human nature; and if the blocks do not always fit, and the ornaments do not always agree, we need not fear. Time will blur the incongruities and moss over the mistakes" (798). Despite Paine's...

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Conclusion

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pp. 147-150

Although Invisible Man, as we have seen, presents a perfect example of a novel which, through the use of allusions, can contain a literary-critical subtext-and although our understanding of both Ellison's ideas and the literary climate in which he came of age leads us to see such a subtext as intentional-the implications of this study go beyond...

Notes

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pp. 151-161

Works Cited

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pp. 163-172

Index

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pp. 173-181