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Black OdysseysThe Homeric Odyssey in the African Diaspora since 1939$
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Justine McConnell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199605002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605002.001.0001

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Invisible Odysseus and the Cyclops: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Invisible Odysseus and the Cyclops: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man

Chapter:
(p.70) (p.71) 2 Invisible Odysseus and the Cyclops: Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man
Source:
Black Odysseys
Author(s):

Justine McConnell

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605002.003.0003

Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man (1952) was published just two years before the American Civil Rights Movement began in earnest. Positioning itself at the centre of a triangle of ancient classical literature, the canon of nineteenth- and twentieth-century literature, and African-American folklore, its critical reception was starkly divided, often along racial and chronological lines. The novel’s engagement with the Homeric trickster Odysseus runs in tandem with that of the trickster of African-American folklore, Brer Rabbit. This chapter demonstrates how Ellison’s literary and folkloric influences are exhibited within the novel, and used to engage with the contemporary political situation to profound effect.

Keywords:   Ellison, Invisible Man, Brer Rabbit, folklore, identity, trickster

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