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Next Up: Invisible Man

This will be my second time through Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man–not to be confused with The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells

I last read the novel back in college, about 13 years ago. And I remember really enjoying Ralph Ellison’s writing style and the experimental style of the novel.

For starters, the protagonist in Invisible Man is unnamed. This is fitting, since the book is a statement on the identity of African-Americans in the early 20th century. It’s a story of searching and trying to fit in amidst a culture that considers you a second-rate citizen, even a sideshow.

Some quick facts about Invisible Man and Ralph Ellison:

  • Published in 1952, Invisible Man was Ralph Ellison’s first novel.
  • The novel won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953.
  • In addition to appearing on the Time list, Invisible Man was ranked 19th on the Modern Library list of 100 best English language novels of the 20th Century.
  • The infamous “battle royal” scene that opens the novel was actually published four years before the novel’s publication.
  • Ellison was named after Ralph Waldo Emerson.
  • He was contemporaries with James Baldwin and Richard Wright, two other prominent African-American writers.

What does Time say?

Evenhandedly exposing the hypocrisies and stereotypes of all comers, Invisible Man is far more than a race novel, or even a bildungsroman. It’s the quintessential American picaresque of the 20th century.

Picaresque, huh? Time, you stole the words right out of my mouth.

So there you go. Invisible Man on deck.

I’m looking forward to this one. I’ve really enjoyed some of the civil rights themed novels I’ve read so far (Native Son, Beloved, Go Tell It On The Mountain, To Kill A Mockingbird), so I don’t expect this to be much different.

Any thoughts on Invisible Man?

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14 Comments Post a comment
  1. I learned two new words from that Time review quote.

    Like

    September 26, 2012
  2. I really hope you can convince me to re-read this. I was forced to read it in High School and was entirely way too young and did not appreciate it or even finish reading it. I know it’s a great book, but I’ve just avoided it ever since.

    Like

    September 26, 2012
    • I think it’s worth a re-read. But I’ll let you know more as I get further along.

      Like

      September 26, 2012
    • ifnotread #

      It’s definitely worth going back to it. Studying a book like that can ruin the experience – it’s unfortunate but it does happen.

      Like

      September 27, 2012
      • I’ll think about it. If anyone can convince me to re-read it Robert can. He manages to take the droll and make it fun, most of the time 😀

        Like

        September 27, 2012
  3. Can’t really give any opinion on this; I haven’t read it. I hope you can provide some comparisons, however, with Native Son, which I have read. I was always interested in Invisible Man, but other books intervened.

    Like

    September 26, 2012
  4. One of my favorite novels. I did not take it as a “race” novel. Rather, I understood the story as a “young american male” novel. The experiences of the main character are not unlike those of the modern man trying to find his place in the world. Brilliant book.

    Like

    September 26, 2012
  5. I haven’t read it yet, but it’s on my list!

    Like

    September 26, 2012
  6. Great book.

    Like

    September 26, 2012
  7. I remember reading Invisible Man in high school and the imagery of that Ellison’s writing has stuck with me sense. I have been meaning to pick it up again and this post just inspired me to.

    Like

    September 26, 2012
    • Awesome. Let me know what you think as you read it along with me.

      Like

      September 27, 2012
  8. ifnotread #

    Invisible Man has to be one of the best books I’ve read. I remember not even noticing until half way through that the protagonist was nameless! Fascinating. It is a very powerful story and I have my own yellowing copy sitting on my shelf waiting patiently for me to pick it up again.

    Like

    September 27, 2012
  9. Reblogged this on On My Stereo.

    Like

    September 27, 2012
  10. I read Invisible Man two years ago, during my sophomore year of college. I loved it! Such a great book.

    Like

    September 27, 2012

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