The Apocalypse in African-American Fiction

By Maxine Lavon Montgomery | Go to book overview

PREFACE

I became aware of the use of apocalypse among African-American novelists while enrolled in a graduate course on postmodern black fiction at the University of Illinois-Champaign. Not only did I notice that the authors whose works we read frequently turned to biblical apocalyptics in giving form and essence to their works, it became clear to me that they did so with a rhetorical emphasis that differed from that of their American counterparts.

This book reflects what has become an ongoing interest on my part in the close relationship between biblical texts and African-American fictional discourse. Apocalypse, an idiom that is central to the black literary tradition, seemed the best starting point for scholarly inquiry into the ways in which the Bible has influenced black writing. It is my hope that this book will help to lay the critical groundwork for further study of the connections between Scriptural texts and African-American literature.

My primary purpose in writing is to reveal the uniqueness of the image of apocalypse in African-American fiction. Because African Americans have been excluded from fall participation in America's social, political, and economic mainstream, they have been forced to develop a theological perspective at odds with that of White America. From the point of view of the dispossessed masses, the end of the world suggests a welcomed end to all forms of oppression and the beginning of a new era of equality--in this life more so than in the next one.

-ix-

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The Apocalypse in African-American Fiction
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page ii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 Charles Chesnutt, the Marrow of Tradition 15
  • Chapter 2- Richard Wright, Native Son 28
  • Chapter 3 Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man 40
  • Chapter 4 James Baldwin, Go Tell It on the Mountain 52
  • Chapter 5- Leroi Jones [imamu Amiri Baraka], The System of Dante's Hell 64
  • Chapter 6 Toni Morrison, Sula 74
  • Chapter 7 Gloria Naylor, the Women of Brewster Place 88
  • Notes 103
  • Bibliography 107
  • Index 111
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