FREE delivery: Thursday, Dec 15 on orders over $25.00 shipped by Amazon.
Ships from: Amazon.com Sold by: Amazon.com
Other Sellers on Amazon
Follow the Author
Invisible Man Paperback – January 1, 1995
|New from||Used from|
Enhance your purchase
He 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," before retreating amid violence and confusion.
Originally published in 1952 as the first novel by a then unknown author, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, James Joyce, and Dostoevsky.
"A Feather on the Water: A Novel" by Lindsay Jayne Ashford for $9.34
For three women in postwar Germany, 1945 is a time of hope―lost and found―in this powerful novel by the bestselling author of The Woman on the Orient Express.| Learn more
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
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
- ASIN : 0679732764
- Publisher : Vintage Books; 2nd edition (January 1, 1995)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 581 pages
- ISBN-10 : 9780679732761
- ISBN-13 : 978-0679732761
- Lexile measure : 870L
- Item Weight : 1 pounds
- Dimensions : 5.18 x 0.99 x 7.93 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #11,202 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
Reviewed in the United States on March 16, 2020
Reviews with images
Top reviews from the United States
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
The story is told by an unnamed narrator who grew up in a small town in the American South. He wins a school contest in speech-making, for which he earns a scholarship to a black college. Before he can collect his prize, however, he must first undergo a harrowing and brutal racist hazing ritual for the amusement of the town’s leading white men. As a college student, he is assigned to act as chauffeur and guide to one of the school’s wealthy white donors. When, at the donor’s request, he ushers the white man to some unseemly sites that display the harsher realities of black life in the town, he draws the ire of the college’s president, who expels him from the school. He then heads to New York, where he is recruited by a socialist group called the Brotherhood that ostensibly advocates reforms for the poor and working classes of all races. Due to his prowess as a public speaker, the narrator is assigned to be the Brotherhood’s spokesman in Harlem.
At least half of the novel is devoted to the protagonist’s career with the Brotherhood, which is easily the narrative’s biggest fault. Way too much time is spent on the internal politics and behind-the-scenes strategies of this organization. The reader sits through a series of protracted dialogues in which members of the group’s hierarchy accost each other in accusatory tones without ever really saying what they mean. In the end this yields some interesting conclusions, but Ellison sure takes a long and circuitous route in getting there. Just as in John Steinbeck’s In Dubious Battle, a novel about labor organizers among oppressed white farm workers, focusing so much on the supposed reformers often leaves the reader feeling one step removed from the problems they’re trying to reform. In both cases, the author is critical of these purported saviors and exposes the self-interested exploitation behind their agendas. Ellison’s criticisms of the Communists and their treatment of black Americans may be valid, but the 21st century reader finds himself wishing more time had been spent focusing on the realities of black life in Harlem. The beginning and end of the novel—the narrator’s life in the South, his time at college, the frenzied climax, and the thoughtful epilogue—are superior to what’s in between.
Those who prefer a more traditionally naturalistic social realism will find that Ellison ventures a little too much into a verbose, Faulknerian stream-of-conscious style that obscures his arguments more than it elucidates them. Thankfully, only portions of the novel are written in this manner. Despite my few reservations, Invisible Man is still a great novel and an enlightening read. Though published almost seven decades ago, many of the issues Ellison raises have proven regrettably timeless, thus Invisible Man still retains its relevance. For those receptive to what it has to say, this book still has the power to change one’s views on race in America.
Top reviews from other countries
Yet in the end it is common humanity in an existential quandary that comes to the fore, or rather takes a back seat. On the way we are treated to various religious, political and downright tragic scenarios and strategies for each of which the orator in Ellison has a rip roaring speech. Great stuff!