SearchBeat Home
Artsautosbooksbusinesscollegecomputershealthhomejobsmusicnews
Search:  
recreationreferenceregionalscienceshoppingsocietysportstravelworld
Hot Topics: family & kids | fashion | federal gov't | games | genealogy | history | movies | repairs | traffic | weather | Featured Sites | SITE MAP |

 Search Beat > Shopping > Publications > Books > Featured Titles > Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison


Shopping and Product Search for
Advanced Search  

books and such...
Invisible Man
by Ralph Ellison

581 pages 2nd edition (March 1995)
Vintage Books; ISBN: 0679732764


We rely, in this world, on the visual aspects of humanity as a means of learning who we are. This, Ralph Ellison argues convincingly, is a dangerous habit. A classic from the moment it first appeared in 1952, Invisible Man chronicles the travels of its narrator, a young, nameless black man, as he moves through the hellish levels of American intolerance and cultural blindness. Searching for a context in which to know himself, he exists in a very peculiar state. "I am an invisible man," he says in his prologue. "When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination--indeed, everything and anything except me." But this is hard-won self-knowledge, earned over the course of many years.

As the book gets started, the narrator is expelled from his Southern Negro college for inadvertently showing a white trustee the reality of black life in the south, including an incestuous farmer and a rural whorehouse. The college director chastises him: "Why, the dumbest black bastard in the cotton patch knows that the only way to please a white man is to tell him a lie! What kind of an education are you getting around here?" Mystified, the narrator moves north to New York City, where the truth, at least as he perceives it, is dealt another blow when he learns that his former headmaster's recommendation letters are, in fact, letters of condemnation.

What ensues is a search for what truth actually is, which proves to be supremely elusive. The narrator becomes a spokesman for a mixed-race band of social activists called "The Brotherhood" and believes he is fighting for equality. Once again, he realizes he's been duped into believing what he thought was the truth, when in fact it is only another variation. Of the Brothers, he eventually discerns: "They were blind, bat blind, moving only by the echoed sounds of their voices. And because they were blind they would destroy themselves.... Here I thought they accepted me because they felt that color made no difference, when in reality it made no difference because they didn't see either color or men."

Invisible Man is certainly a book about race in America, and sadly enough, few of the problems it chronicles have disappeared even now. But Ellison's first novel transcends such a narrow definition. It's also a book about the human race stumbling down the path to identity, challenged and successful to varying degrees. None of us can ever be sure of the truth beyond ourselves, and possibly not even there. The world is a tricky place, and no one knows this better than the invisible man, who leaves us with these chilling, provocative words: "And it is this which frightens me: Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?" --Melanie Rehak

articles and reviews
April 16, 1952
Books of the Times
By ORVILLE PRESCOTT

Ralph Ellison's first novel, "The Invisible Man," is the most impressive work of fiction by an American Negro which I have ever read. Unlike Richard Wright and Willard Motley, who achieve their best effects by overpowering their readers with documentary detail, Mr. Ellison is a finished novelist who uses words with great skill, who writes with poetic intensity and immense narrative drive. "Invisible Man" has many flaws. It is a sensational and feverishly emotional book. It will shock and sicken some of its readers. But, whatever the final verdict on "Invisible Man" may be, it does mark the appearance of a richly talented writer. [read more]

resources


Sponsored Links





Featured Topics
 
Real Boys' Voices by William S. Pollack, Ph.D.

Bowling Alone - The Collapse And Revival Of American Community by Robert Putnam - Read a short introduction and his fascinating Chapter 1.

Horse Heaven by Jane Smiley

"Anil's Ghost" by Michael Ondaatje - With his first novel since the internationally acclaimed The English Patient, Michael Ondaatje gives us a work displaying all the richness of imagery and language.

"Blessings" by Avrum Organick - "Human nature and nature in all its forms are tenderly portrayed by the writer, Avrum Organick in this love story. Against the backdrop of the breathtaking beauty of the West - Navajo Land..."

"White Teeth - A Novel" by Zadie Smith - Epic and intimate, hilarious and poignant, White Teeth is the story of two North London families.



Book Resources

Regional Travel Books

International Fiction

By Genre Featured Authors and Interviews
South Asian Books

 

Site Sponsors
Books:Amazon
Travel:TravelNow

 



 Site Index: # A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z

 
 
Web www.searchbeat.com
Arts/Entertainment | Autos | Books | Business | Colleges | Computers | Health | Home/Garden | Jobs | Kids/Teens
Music | News/Media | Recreation | Reference | Regional | Science | Shopping | Society | Sports | Travel | World


Advertise
| Feedback
| Contact us | Join our mailing list | Our Story | Privacy Policy | Terms and Conditions
Copyright © 1997-2017 SearchBeat, All Rights Reserved