Invisible Man

Paperback, 581 pages

English language

Published Nov. 13, 1995 by Vintage International.

ISBN:
978-0-679-73276-1
Copied ISBN!
OCLC Number:
32176578

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4 stars (63 reviews)

Invisible Man is the story of a young black man from the South who does not fully understand racism in the world. Filled with hope about his future, he goes to college, but gets expelled for showing one of the white benefactors the real and seamy side of black existence. He moves to Harlem and becomes an orator for the Communist party, known as the Brotherhood. In his position, he is both threatened and praised, swept up in a world he does not fully understand. As he works for the organization, he encounters many people and situations that slowly force him to face the truth about racism and his own lack of identity. As racial tensions in Harlem continue to build, he gets caught up in a riot that drives him to a manhole. In the darkness and solitude of the manhole, he begins to understand himself - his invisibility …

47 editions

Review of "Ralph Ellison's Invisible man" on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

Among the many devastating lines one passage bounced back and forth in my head like a clapper:

"In going underground, I whipped it all except the mind, the mind. And the mind that has conceived a plan of living must never lose sight of the chaos against which that pattern was conceived. That goes for societies as well as for individuals. Thus, having tried to give pattern to the chaos which lives within the pattern of your certainties, I must come out, I must emerge."

There is something I can't reconcile about that passage. Something that troubles me about patterning chaos within a pattern of certainties that feels a bit like a snake eating it's own tail and yet there is a contradiction in that passage in that it rings entirely true.

There is obviously a lot to say about this incredible novel, one of the few masterpieces of American …

Review of "Ralph Ellison's Invisible man" on 'Goodreads'

4 stars

It's shocking that I had not read this before now. But I am kind of glad. I feel like I wouldn't have been able to appreciate it as much if I hadn't already banged my head on many similar struggles. I have to admit that it took me a bit to get into it. I think that is because of the unreliable narrator and sometimes streaming writing. But once he got to the activist scene... Things really haven't changed since the fifties.

Review of "Ralph Ellison's Invisible man" on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

I'm not sure what to make of this book. I think I am not taking away from this what the author intended since I do not know what that is. I will have to read some analyses.

Very limited character development, other than the main character; really a one-character novel. A number of surprising scenes are well and graphically described.

I was unable to see a point to all of it. Like many things I read and don't "get", I imagine this may be due to my lack of cultural familiarity, but I cannot tell.

Review of "Ralph Ellison's Invisible man" on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This is a fascinating odyssey, the story of a young African-American man striving to find his identity and make sense of societal issues in the earlier part of the twentieth century. It is told in the first person by an unnamed narrator who undergoes quite a metamorphosis; in the beginning, he is a young, naive student in the South who takes for granted the way things are for black people, but then events force him to head north, where he has many adventures that are confusing, enlightening, enraging, and affirming. Along the way, he meets people who want to use him in one way or another, but none of these people are able to see him as the individual he is. Even when he is hired to make speeches for a social action group that he believes is doing good work, he is eventually admonished not to be thinking for …

Review of "Ralph Ellison's Invisible man" on 'Goodreads'

3 stars

The whole time I was reading this book I was feeling disappointed. It seemed so cliched, even though I realize it was written in the mid 20th century; before the civil rights movement and in a world I don't/can't understand. I had to keep reminding myself how revolutionary this seemed at the time. Finally, at the end it all came together and resolved almost like a coming of age story. Sometimes we need to look in the mirror; we need to become visible to ourselves so we become "real" to others. You cannot lead when you are too busy following.

Review of "Ralph Ellison's Invisible man" on 'Goodreads'

5 stars

This was an excellent book. The prose was evocative in a way that reminds me of what creative writing teachers try to encourage but fail to describe. The narrative flows despite the brutal topics. I'll admit that the resolution of the story itself is not entirely clear to me; I didn't have the revelation that the main character had. Still, it is easily the best-written work of fiction that I've read in a long time.

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Subjects

  • African American men -- Fiction

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