Sunday, April 14, 2002

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man published 50 years ago today

First posted 6/9/2020; updated 7/5/2020.

Invisible Man

Ralph Ellison

First Publication: April 14, 1952

Category: novel/social commentary

Sales: ?


About the Book:

“A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks…and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.” AZ Time magazine called it “the quintessential American picaresque of the 20th century.” WK

“Ellison addresses what it means to be an African American in a world hostile to the rights of a minority, on the cusp of the emerging civil rights movement that was to change society irrevocably.” LC The book confronts “many of the social and intellectual issues facing African Americans early in the twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marxism, and the reformist racial policies of Booker T. Washington, as well as issues of individuality and personal identity.” WK

The “unnamed narrator who views himself as someone many in society do not see much less pay attention to.” LC He “describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of ‘the Brotherhood,’ and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.” AZ

“The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.” AZ In turn, “according to The New York Times, former U.S. president Barack Obama modeled his memoir Dreams from My Father on Ellison’s novel.” WK

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