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|Title:||The Modern Black Novelist and The Apocalyptic Tradition|
|Author(s):||Montgomery, Maxine Lavon|
|Department / Program:||English|
|Degree Granting Institution:||University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign|
|Abstract:||Modern American literature is dominated by the mood and images of apocalypse. Undoubtedly the accelerated national turmoil following the Second World War created this feeling of impending doom. The omnipresent threat of a nuclear holocaust, rapid advancements in industrial technology and increased socio-political strife led many Americans to believe that the nation was en route to its final destruction. Indeed, the chaos within the nation suggested that America need no longer await destruction by a divine agent, for mankind was and is developing the means to exterminate itself. Black Americans watched the nation's escalating turmoil with interest and with a great deal of objective scrutiny. As part of American society, yet poised just outside this society's political and economic rewards, the modern Black novelist presents a unique perspective on a once exclusively religious event. The purpose of this study is to establish a schematization of apocalyptic imagery, using as a basis mythic imagery, Judeo-Christian imagery and the secular strand of imagery in the modern American novel; to explore revisions of that scheme characteristic of the modern Black novel; and finally, to investigate patterns of literary indebtedness of the modern Black imagination to both traditional and secular strands of apocalyptic imagery.
Included in this study are five representative modern Black novels, each of which presents an image of impending doom and destruction. In order of treatment, they are: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, Le Roi Jones' The System of Dante's Hell, Toni Morrison's Sula, James Baldwin's Go Tell it on the Mountain and Richard Wright's Native Son. Characteristic of the apocalypse in the modern Black novel is the destruction of Western time and history and the creation of a separate Black cosmology. Because the Black protagonist is unable to find a sense of freedom and dignity in a fast-paced modern world on the brink of catastrophe, he is forced to construct, using elements from the Black folk past, a new vision of himself and his society. His new world is an idealized one originating from an affirmation of the Black historical past.
Thesis (Ph.D.)--University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 1986.
|Date Available in IDEALS:||2014-12-15|