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Ralph Ellison, Temporal Technologist$
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Michael Germana

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780190682088

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2017

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780190682088.001.0001

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Time, History, and Becoming in Invisible Man

Time, History, and Becoming in Invisible Man

Chapter:
(p.41) Chapter 1 Time, History, and Becoming in Invisible Man
Source:
Ralph Ellison, Temporal Technologist
Author(s):

Michael Germana

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/oso/9780190682088.003.0002

Chapter 1 locates the origins of Ralph Ellison’s philosophy of temporality in the ideas of Henri Bergson and Friedrich Nietzsche, and reads Ellison’s debut novel Invisible Man in light of these observations. Anticipating the work of Gilles Deleuze, Ellison places Nietzsche’s concept of eternal recurrence into a Bergsonian context by combining Nietzsche’s arguments about history and immanence with Bergson’s claims about time and its fundamental creativity. The resulting philosophy prefigures Deleuze’s ideas about difference and repetition, or, the complex relationship between becoming and being. Because Invisible Man is the text where Ellison first fully articulates these concepts, this chapter treats the novel as a critical overture to Ellison’s corpus and the temporal and historical themes that recur throughout it. In the process, this chapter challenges long-held misconceptions about Ellison, including his debt to existentialism, his dedication to disorder, his commitment to surrealism, and his status as a modernist author.

Keywords:   Ralph Ellison, temporality, time, duration, immanence, becoming, Richard Wright, Gilles Deleuze, Henri Bergson, Friedrich Nietzsche

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