Invisible Man

Front Cover
Vintage International, Oct 8, 2008 - Fiction - 581 pages
Invisible Man is 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's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

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The narrator begins telling his story with the claim that he is an “invisible man.” His invisibility is not a physical condition but is how he feels others to see him. He says that because of his invisibility, he has been hiding from the world, living underground and stealing electricity from the Monopolated Light & Power Company. He ends up talking to a crowd of people and get a scholarship. A few years later he goes to this college and gets the honor of driving an important trustee around. After an intense conversation with a civilian of a town nearby the college the trustee says he needs a drink. The narrator takes him to get a drink but things don’t go as planned. That afternoon when they got back the Principal of the school found out about what happened and tells the narrator that he has 3 days to leave the college. He packs his stuff and is on his way the next morning. The principal gives recommendation letters to the boy and send him on him way. He goes to New York to find a job but stops at a few places to hand off the letters. One of them opened the letter and informed the man that the letters recommend that the boy not be hired. He finally gets hired out of sympathy and things are going well until years later he gets caught up in the wrong place at the wrong time and ends up hiding away underground and has been there ever since.
I personally liked this book. I think that the intense details were a plus because without them it wouldn’t have been the same. The most interesting part had to be when Mr. Norton and the boy was talking to the man about the situation of his wife and daughter pregnant. It was very intense and surprising for the reader. The most boring part was when the Principal was telling his sermon. And I would maybe recommend it to a few people that I think would like it.

About the author (2008)

Ralph Ellison was born in Okalahoma and trained as a musician at Tuskegee Institute from 1933 to 1936, at which time a visit to New York and a meeting with Richard Wright led to his first attempts at fiction. Invisible Man won the National Book Award  and the Russwurm Award. Appointed to the Academy of American Arts and Letters in 1964, Ellison taught at many colleges including Bard College, the University of Chicago, and New York University where he was Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities from 1970 through 1980. Ralph Ellison died in 1994.

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