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Furiously FunnyComic Rage from Ralph Ellison to Chris Rock$
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Terrence T. Tucker

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9780813054360

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813054360.001.0001

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(Re)Viewing Ellison’s Invisible Man

(Re)Viewing Ellison’s Invisible Man

Comedy, Rage, and Cultural Tradition in an African American Classic

Chapter:
(p.24) 1 (Re)Viewing Ellison’s Invisible Man
Source:
Furiously Funny
Author(s):

Terrence T. Tucker

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813054360.003.0002

This chapter examines Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man as a foundational work in the development of comic rage, particularly through its use of black folk tradition. Ellison’s use of the tradition of black folk humor on both literal and cultural targets manifests itself in extensive acts of signifying. In particular, the novel critiques black protest novels of the 1940s and 1950s—embodied by Richard Wright’s Native Son—with the use of humor and other forms of African American cultural expressions. This chapter explores how, while the novel contains as much rage and violence as the protest novels do in their critique of racist oppression, Ellison’s novel avoids allowing the rage to become destructive by highlighting the rhetorical skill of the protagonist and the embrace of jazz as a critical aesthetic. The book lays the groundwork for other works of comic rage both within and outside the African American literary tradition.

Keywords:   Richard Wright, Native Son, protest novel, Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, signifying, black folk tradition

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