Kay's Reviews > Invisible Man

Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison
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Mar 19, 2008

it was amazing

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 experience of racism, rage, and manipulation rarely expressed with such force and eloquence. Ellison follows tried and true patterns from dramatic ritual to spell out his invisible man's journey from cocksure teenager to furious refugee hiding out in a basement in Harlem. The last lines of the book are haunting and almost hopeful through the despair.
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Reading Progress

Started Reading
May 1, 1979 – Finished Reading
March 19, 2008 – Shelved

Comments (showing 1-20 of 20) (20 new)

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Gregory Rothbard The last words also circle back to the opening of the book... it is a full circle turn that continues and continues and continues if the reader desires to do so.


message 2: by Frank (new) - added it

Frank I loved the book for so many reasons, but I don't understand why Ralph made the main character live in that basement at the end of the book. I wanted to see him doing something amazing.


Judy Beautiful review. I read the book a few years before you (happy to see someone else read it way back, still feels the impact, and much more...).


Michelle I read this book at the she of 16. I was awakened to say the least. I am about to read it again.


message 5: by Michael (last edited Sep 29, 2015 09:59PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

Michael Hitchcock I agree with you. Such an important book! (Thanks for teaching it in school! :) That's an amazing public service!)

It's interesting you call the ending "almost hopeful." I felt from it that after so bluntly telling his story and having such a long rest, he was ready to go out and find a new place in the world. I felt energized. What about it feels "almost hopeful" to you instead of just "hopeful."


message 6: by Jen (new) - rated it 3 stars

Jen Would you be willing to share some teaching ideas/plans? Just recently assigned this and am in search of some good ideas.


message 7: by Lauren (new)

Lauren Murray I'm in the process of reading this novel in hopes of teaching it to AP Lit students next year. I'd be very interested to hear your approach in teaching its content and themes to your students!


Jamshid Faryar "the surreal experience of racism, rage, and manipulation rarely expressed with such force and eloquence. Ellison follows tried and true patterns from dramatic ritual"

The book is at times surrealistic and at other times dramatic and evocative of anger and frustration.


Ivana Books Are Magic so cool you wrote your thesis about it. A truly exceptional novel, isn't it?


message 10: by Shery (new)

Shery I read this in an African-American novels class in grad school, but think it is one of the most important novels period. I am teaching it in AP Language this year for the first time. I always thought it might be too difficult to teach, but I have a young teacher working with me this year and she seems willing to take the risk. Any pointers for handling difficult issues or parts of they text?


message 11: by Cat (new) - added it

Cat Potter I've only read an excerpt in class but I knew I must read it in its entirety. Loved his style!


Peter I look forward to more of your comments on this novel.


David Grenfell Good review and glad to hear that it is being taught. Joe Morton's narration of the book is so good that it is as if Ellison wrote it intending Morton to perform it. I highly recommend that any who have a hard time reading literature, or desire a great performance, give the audio version of this book a try.


message 14: by Kay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kay Thanks for the suggestion. Some of my students love audiobooks.


message 15: by Kay (new) - rated it 5 stars

Kay Only a year late...so I hope you did teach IM and found great success with it. For the past two years I've approached it as a postmodern novel and taught it from that angle, so that the students learn all the conventions of post-modern fiction and then identify those elements. Of course we also deal with the themes of isolation, race, identity, etc., but in the context of of the style.


message 16: by Frank (new) - added it

Frank I really like the book too it's my best not about the race part but the identity part the main character was naive but a genius


message 17: by Frank (new) - added it

Frank Kay what was the focus of ur thesis


message 18: by Britt (new)

Britt This review is better than the book itself.


Roxie Thank you for your review. As an AP student, reading about others who have read this book helps me in my studies to improve my understanding.


Mary Myers It was a required summer reading for freshmen entering Regis College in 1967 ...and is just as relevant now


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