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Invisible Man

About the Book

Invisible Man

The questions, topics, and author biography that follow are designed to enhance your group's reading and discussion of Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man. We hope that they will provide you with new ways of looking at--and talking about--a book that is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest American novels of the second half of this century. From the moment of its publication in 1952, Invisible Man generated the impact of a cultural tidal wave. Here was a pioneering work of African-American fiction that addressed not only the social, but the psychic and metaphysical, components of racism: the invisibility of a large portion of this country's populace and the origins of that invisibility in one people's willed blindness and another's habit of self-concealment.

But Ellison had created far more than a commentary on race. He had attempted to decipher the cruel and beautiful paradox that is America, a country founded on high ideals and cold-blooded betrayals. And he sent his naive hero plunging through almost every stratum of this divided society, from an ivy-covered college in the deep South to the streets of Harlem, from a sharecropper's shack to the floor of a hellish paint factory, from a millionaire's cocktail party to a communist rally, from church jubilees to street riots. Along the way, Ellison's narrator encounters the full range of strategies that African-Americans have used in their struggle for survival and dignity--as well as all the scams, alibis, and naked brutalities that whites have used to keep them in their place.

In his prose, Ellison managed to encompass the entirety of the American language--black and white, high-brow and low-down, musical, religious, and jivey--and reshape it to his own ends. In Invisible Man he created one of those rare works that is a world unto itself, a book that illuminates our own in ways that are at once hilarious and devastating.

Invisible Man
by Ralph Ellison

  • Publication Date: March 14, 1995
  • Paperback: 608 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN-10: 0679732764
  • ISBN-13: 9780679732761