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Invisible Man (1952)

by Ralph Ellison

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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14,743191319 (3.99)662
Invisible Manis a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952.  A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.  The nameless narrator of the novel 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.  The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot'sThe Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.… (more)
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    M_Clark: This very cynical novel takes place during the same time period as "The Invisible Man" and provides additional perspectives on race during the post WWII years.
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1940s (29)
1950s (40)
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» See also 662 mentions

English (182)  Spanish (2)  Dutch (1)  Portuguese (Portugal) (1)  Norwegian (1)  All languages (187)
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
“The world is a possibility if only you'll discover it.”

Reading this for school most definitely took the fun out of it, but I enjoyed it nevertheless.

Invisible Man follows an unnamed black narrator who speaks of his invisibility. His invisibility is due to him being a black man in the early 1900's United States.

Throughout the novel, we follow him on his journey to becoming someone, anyone with importance. His identity changes from time to time, from him learning new lessons or becoming involved in certain crowds. He chooses his actions based on what he feels but also based on how the white men around him want him to act.

This book has many lessons and morals to learn from and I truly feel that it is an important book to read.

The main thing I loved about this book was the writing. Ralph Ellison has a way with words and a way of making the book feel natural. The language/prose makes you feel like you are there with the narrator, experiencing what he is experiencing and learning the lessons he learns.

It was hard to get through, though, because of the philosophical take. Many pages were just filled with long paragraphs of the narrator talking about life, invisibility, equality, death, identity, etc. and I found myself bored very often. But in the end, those pages are the ones with the lessons and ideologies we need to be exposed to and learn from.

i suck at ending reviews so bye lol ( )
  ninaleonidovna | Oct 2, 2022 |
When I read this book, I lead a pretty sheltered live. I didn't watch rated-R movies, I didn't watch TV period, I didn't listen to non-Christian music. So the experience of this harrowing and graphic book was pretty excruciating. It was hard to get to the point and really appreciate the message through all of that. Maybe, if I read it now that I'm older and leading a different kind of life, I would appreciate it more. ( )
  kiskadee321 | Aug 23, 2022 |
Beginning with a prologue that reminds the reader of Dostoevsky's Notes from Underground, Ralph Ellison creates one of the best first novels I have ever read. His writing in Invisible Man, while filled with literary references, is truly in the tradition of the great American novel as he pens the evolution of a modern underground man. His protagonist grows invisible to those who look beyond him as he experiences disappointment in the hypocrisy of white and black men alike. The result is a novel that rejects conventional social protest to proclaim the humanity of the individual by making him invisible. ( )
  jwhenderson | Jul 31, 2022 |
Invisible Man's nameless southern protagonist forces the reader to run the gamut of emotions: by turns we are frightened, touched, shocked, amused, even pitying and hopeful. When we first meet him, he lives on the hem of society in an unused part of the basement of a building for whites. He steals shelter and electricity like a boogeyman. He is truly invisible. There comes a point in time when he tries to reach the light by going to college only to be expelled after being accused of offending a white man. Invisible again. Through various trials and tribulations this nameless young man finally makes it to New York where he is confronted with the reality of his race. His lack of identity allows him to be mistaken for someone else. As he becomes more and more invisible, the more and more I wanted him to rage against it. The problem is, when you are a young black man trying to escape the white man's thumb in the 1940s, rage is the last emotion you are allowed to express. Every endeavor leads him closer to destruction. Like a horror movie, I wanted to read Invisible Man with one eye closed against all the gross misunderstandings prejudice and racism can bring. ( )
  SeriousGrace | Mar 3, 2022 |
Showing 1-5 of 182 (next | show all)
"Invisible Man" is tough, brutal and sensational. It is uneven in quality. But it blazes with authentic talent.
 

» Add other authors (48 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Ralph Ellisonprimary authorall editionscalculated
Callahan, JohnIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Goyert, GeorgÜbersetzersecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
James, Peter FrancisNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
Morton, JoeNarratorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed

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Epigraph
"You are saved," cried Captain Delano, more and more astonished and pained; "you are saved: what has cast such a shadow upon you?"

--Herman Melville, Benito Cereno
HARRY: I tell you, it is not me you are looking at,

Not me you arre grinning at, not me your confidential looks

Incriminate, but that other person, if person,

You thought I was: let your necrophily

Feed upon that carcase. . . .

--T. S. Eliot, Family Reunion
Dedication
To Ida
First words
"I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids—and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination—indeed, everything and anything except me."
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Wikipedia in English (2)

Invisible Manis a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952.  A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.  The nameless narrator of the novel 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.  The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot'sThe Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

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Legacy Library: Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison has a Legacy Library. Legacy libraries are the personal libraries of famous readers, entered by LibraryThing members from the Legacy Libraries group.

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Penguin Australia

2 editions of this book were published by Penguin Australia.

Editions: 0141184426, 014119491X

 

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