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Invisible Man

3.84  ·  Rating details ·  132,043 Ratings  ·  4,410 Reviews
In this classic reissue by Ellison, an African-American man's search for success and the American dream leads him out of college to Harlem and a growing sense of personal rejection and social invisibility.
Paperback
Published November 1st 1968 by Signet (first published 1952)
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Seth One of the lines of the book explains it to me: "Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?" Speaks for who? You. The reader. Not…moreOne of the lines of the book explains it to me: "Who knows but that, on the lower frequencies, I speak for you?" Speaks for who? You. The reader. Not black or white. There is a connection between the black experience in America, but Ellison uses it to make broader point about the human experience.(less)
Sbussey The answer really depends on why you read. When I read to find my own thoughts and feelings and experiences reflected and validated, I feel rewarded…moreThe answer really depends on why you read. When I read to find my own thoughts and feelings and experiences reflected and validated, I feel rewarded by books that seem to be about someone like me--whether by gender, or race, or region, or education. Books about white married women with children? Well, yes! There are some great ones. But sometimes I also read in order to experience thoughts and feelings I have never had, and could never have. These books challenge me to feel empathy (perhaps the most human thing we can do) with people I might not otherwise understand or even know about.
Invisible Man is one such book for me.(less)
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Kay
Mar 19, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Full disclosure: I wrote my master's thesis on Ellison's novel because I thought the first time that I read it that it is one of the most significant pieces of literature from the 20th century. Now that I teach it in my AP English class, I've reread it many times, and I'm more convinced than ever that if you are only going to read one book in your life, it should be this one. The unnamed protagonist re-enacts the diaspora of African-Americans from the South to the North--and the surreal experien ...more
Rowena
“I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fibre and liquids- and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible because people refuse to see me…When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves, or figments of their imagination- indeed, everything and anything except me.”

When I first read the book last year, the above quote really stood out to me. It seemed very Dostevskyan. It has taken a second reading for me to truly process the content of this book, and still I can
...more
Lisa
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.”

Reading "Invisible Man" during a visit to New York was a deeply touching experience. What an incredible bonus to be able to follow in the footsteps of the young man struggling with racial and political identity questions. The physical presence of New York life enhanced the reading, and the city added flavour and sound to the story. Hearing the noise, walking in the lights of the advertisement, seeing the faces from all corners of the world made the main
...more
Megan Baxter
Dec 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The writing is hypnotic in Invisible Man and the dread all-pervasive. Every time I sat down to read a bit more, I was sucked into the prose, even though it made me deeply uneasy and worried about what was going to happen next.

It is stark, it is poetic, it is difficult, and it is rewarding.

Note: The rest of this review has been withdrawn due to the recent changes in Goodreads policy and enforcement. You can read why I came to this decision here.

In the meantime, you can read the entire review at
...more
Joe
Jun 18, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Most capital-G Great books can be a grim trudge, like doing homework. Invisible Man is one of the few Great books that's also relentlessly, unapologetically entertaining, full of brawls, explosions, double-crosses, and the exuberant mad. As a meditation on race, it's as fresh as if it had been first published yesterday. One of the most essential American novels ever written and only the best of the best can stand alongside it: Grapes of Wrath, Huckleberry Finn, To Kill A Mockingbird, True Grit.
Cheryl
"If social protest is antithetical to art," Ellison stated in an interview with The Paris Review, "what then shall we make of Goya, Dickens, and Twain?" I found the interview stimulating, especially since Ellison's narrator's voice seemed to reach across the pages of this book and coalesce with the myriad of current events. "Perhaps, though, this thing cuts both ways," Ellison continued in the interview, "the Negro novelist draws his blackness too tightly around him when he sits down to write—th ...more
Diane
Apr 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is such an amazingfantasticincredible book. If I were making a list of the 10 Best Novels About America, this would be at the top.*

I first read Invisible Man in a college literature course, and my 19-year-old self liked it, but rereading it now was a really powerful experience. I definitely appreciated it more and admired Ellison's vision. This novel is the story of a black man in America. We never learn our narrator's name and we don't know what he looks like, but he feels invisible becaus
...more
Carol
Well......I can't say I enjoyed this novel, but I don't think I was supposed to. It's more of a send a message to the reader type classic.

First published in 1953, an unnamed narrator and INVISIBLE MAN tells his life stories of fear, or maybe uncertainty is a better word of his place in the world. As a young and very naive black student, he proceeds through his tumultuous life while constantly haunted by his grandfather's dying words.

The beginning chapters share how (OMG!) he was treated in a Har

...more
brian
Feb 16, 2009 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
after an almost intolerably harrowing and intense first chapter, this book is a major letdown. of obvious historical importance, but an inferior and turgid work of literature in which every character but the protagonist is reduced to an over-simplified archetype meant to represent a particular demographic of american society.

what i found most interesting, however, is that despite having lived another forty-two years, ellison never published another novel. from wikipedia:

In 1967, Ellison experie
...more
Brina
I have been seeing this on friends feeds lately. I read this for a college seminar African American History of the 1930s and 1940s. It was quite an interesting class as the demographics were literally half African American and half Caucasian, thus spurring provocative discussions. Our professor had us read Ellison's masterpiece and even though I do not remember it in its entirety, I remember the protagonist meeting Booker T Washington, George Washington Carver, discussing the talented tenth and ...more
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Invisible Man 1 3 Nov 28, 2017 12:42PM  
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Asti's AP Lit & C...: Setting 28 28 Sep 01, 2017 08:42PM  
Asti's AP Lit & C...: Cruelty 29 31 Sep 01, 2017 08:22PM  
Existential Book ...: Invisible Man 12 45 Jul 19, 2017 05:59PM  
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Ralph Ellison was a scholar and writer. He was born Ralph Waldo Ellison in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, named by his father after Ralph Waldo Emerson. Ellison was best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953. He also wrote Shadow and Act (1964), a collection of political, social and critical essays, and Going to the Territory (1986). For The New York Times , the b ...more
More about Ralph Ellison...
“What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?” 3880 likes
“When I discover who I am, I’ll be free.” 3639 likes
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