“The Enigma of Arrival; or, When Should We Have Read Ralph Ellison’s Three Days Before the Shooting?” is a review essay that looks at the context in which we as readers have come to receive Ellison’s posthumously published novel. It is also a provocation that suggests a way of approaching Ellison’s posthumously published novel that takes seriously Ellison’s move away from the tropes and figures of race that concerned him in his previous work. I argue that Ellison’s novel speaks directly to our contemporary moment and what he already saw in 1982: the “potent and dangerous force” evangelicalism plays in American political and cultural life. Using Erich Auerbach’s understanding of “passio” as a guide, I suggest ways in which Ellison’s novel figures a worldly vision of human passion and belonging that is a rebuttal to the ultranationalist evangelicalism of the eighties and now.

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