was one of the many sources of inspiration for Ellison's richly pluralistic vision. It must be stressed, however, that Dante's influence, so little discussed by the critics, was crucial in the development of Invisible Man, for it gave that novel a unity, depth, and resonance it otherwise might not have had.
Recently Susan Blake has taken exception to Ellison's use of so many traditions, arguing that he employed Western myths as a way of cancelling out the special meanings of the black folk experience. See her essay, "Ritual and Rationalization: Black Folklore in the Works of Ralph Ellison," PMLA, 94 (Fall 1978), 121-36. As this paper will demonstrate, I sharply disagree with this reductive view of Ellison's work.
From CLA Journal XXVIII ( September 1984), 57-77.