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Invisible Man Paperback – March 14, 1995
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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
From Publishers Weekly
These three volumes have been redesigned and reissued to commemorate the first anniversary of Ellison's death.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
Top customer reviews
The invisible man in Wells' story, Griffin, needs to find the formula and then the chemicals to restore himself to visibility. While invisible, he needs to cover himself entirely from his hair to his toes; otherwise people would realize that he was invisible, fear and mistreat him. This causes many difficulties. When he wants to go out without being seen, for example, he needs to remove all of his cloths; and since it is winter, he catches a cold, coughs and sneezes; and walking without shoes, he cuts his feet, bleeds and leaves tracks.
Griffin had robbed his father of money to finance his discovery of invisibility, but is now, books and go out to find the chemicals that are required to restore him to visibility. He resorts to theft again and is discovered because of his bloody foot prints and his sneezes. The police and town people pursue him determined to kill him. He persuades a tramp to help him. Since he cannot carry his scientific books, for people would see the apparently floating books and know that he is carrying them, he gives them to the tramp to carry, but the tramp runs away with them. He goes to a friend from his school days who seems to sympathize with him, but the friend thinks that Griffin is insane and calls the police.
Readers will puzzle over the question "Has Griffin become crazy?" and answer it to their satisfaction. In reading the gripping tale, they will have to decide whether the many deaths in the story can be blamed on Griffin. Also, does a great discovery justify theft? They will be curious what happens to him and to the tramp. They may also ask, "Is Wells offering us a parable and, if so, what is the message?"
The author Ralph Ellison wrote this novel in a way that flies in the face of what many are taught about writing. The name of the central character is always vague or not known.
The main character, “The Invisible man.” will force the reader to look at the world from the eyes of an African American however, I can see applications for various cultures and ethnicities relating to the main character.
The style, of writing which uses the first, second and third person is incredible throughout the novel.
The philosophical commentary throughout will change many readers perception of the world providing the reader an understanding of the dynamic interactions between the main character and the world he maneuvers through as an African American in the early part of the 20th century.
There are so many lessons of humanity to learn and discover when you are invisible to the world.
You can't see him, he's a physicist trying a painful experiment that could both work in his favor or not.
Wells leaves you worried about the outcome. A great classic!!!
Great book... It met my expectations, H.G Wells did a good job describing each character. It's a sci-fi book, so the characters?... they're not the best ones out there, but they definitely go with the story!. This is a book that even a baby would be able to understand.
The beginning is somehow boring but as it progresses it gets super interesting to the point where you can actually imagine yourself in the story.
I highly recommend this book, is a book that you could read it in a short period of time. It's entertaining, it's funny and it has some horror parts!
what else do you want?
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