Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952.160;160;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.160;160;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 quot;the Brotherhoodquot;, and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.160;160;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.
Ellison's classic 1952 novel is about a black man from the South who travels to New York City in the 1930s. He becomes involved with the Communist Party, but is soon disillusioned: the Communists see him not as a person but as a symbol of oppressed humanity, as does the Black Nationalist group he encounters. This inability of a blind and hostile society to value him for himself, rather than as a projection of the ideas of others, is the recurrent theme of the novel, which becomes more and more surreal as the nameless narrator continues his quest for identity. Ultimately, this is an existential statement, permeated with the author's ironic perceptions about the absurdity of human existence.
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- Modern Library
- May 1, 1994
- May 1, 1994
- Ralph Ellison