Invisible Man
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Invisible Man

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The lives of countless millions are evoked in Ralph Ellison's superb portrait of a generation of black Americans, "Invisible Man". This "Penguin Modern Classics" edition includes an introduction by John F. Callahan, as well as an introduction by the author. Ralph Ellison's blistering and impassioned first novel tells the extraordinary story of a man invisible 'simply because people refuse to see me'. Published in 1952 when American society was in the cusp of immense change, the powerfully depicted adventures of Ellison's invisible man - from his expulsion from a Southern college to a terrifying Harlem race riot - go far beyond the story of one individual. As John Callahan says, 'In an extraordinary imaginative leap, he hit upon a single word for the different yet shared condition of African Americans, Americans, and, for that matter, the human individual in the twentieth century and beyond.' This edition includes Ralph Ellison's introduction to the thirtieth anniversary edition of "Invisible Man", a fascinating account of the novel's seven-year gestation. Ralph Waldo Ellison (1914-94), named for the poet Emerson, was born in Oklahoma. At the age of nineteen he won a scholarship to study music at Booker T. Washington's Tuskegee Institute. In 1936 he went to New York, where he met the writers Langston Hughes and Richard Wright; shortly afterwards his stories and articles began to appear in magazines and journals. After the Second World War Ellison was awarded a Rosenwald Fellowship, allowing him to concentrate on the composition of "Invisible Man" (1952), which won the National Book Award and established Ellison as a major figure in twentieth-century fiction. If you enjoyed "Invisible Man", you might like E.L. Doctorow's "The Book of Daniel", also available in "Penguin Modern Classics".

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Product details

  • Paperback | 608 pages
  • 128 x 196 x 26mm | 458.13g
  • Penguin Books Ltd
  • PENGUIN CLASSICS
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 0141184426
  • 9780141184425
  • 8,267

Review quote

One of the most important American novels of the twentieth century Times A brilliant individual victory ... proving that a truly heroic quality can exist among our contemporaries -- Saul Bellow A stunning block-buster of a book that will floor and flabbergast some people, bedevil and intrigue others, and keep everybody reading right through to its explosive end -- Langston Hughes Don't try to write the Great American Novel, it has already been done ... any US epic must address race, which remains the greatest single issue the country faces. -- Paul Gambaccini The Week

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About Ralph Ellison

Ralph Waldo Ellison (1914-94) was born in Oklahoma. In 1936 he went to New York, where he met the writers Langston Hughes and Richard Wright; shortly afterwards his stories and articles began to appear in magazines and journals. His debut novel, Invisible Man (1952), won the National Book Award and established Ellison as a major figure in twentieth-century fiction.

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Review Text

"An extremely powerful story of a young Southern Negro, from his late high school days through three years of college to his life in Harlem. His early training prepared him for a life of humility before white men, but through injustices- large and small, he came to realize that he was an "invisible man". People saw in him only a reflection of their preconceived ideas of what he was, denied his individuality, and ultimately did not see him at all. This theme, which has implications far beyond the obvious racial parallel, is skillfully handled. The incidents of the story are wholly absorbing. The boy's dismissal from college because of an innocent mistake, his shocked reaction to the anonymity of the North and to Harlem, his nightmare experiences on a one-day job in a paint factory and in the hospital, his lightning success as the Harlem leader of a communistic organization known as the Brotherhood, his involvement in black versus white and black versus black clashes and his disillusion and understanding of his invisibility- all climax naturally in scenes of violence and riot, followed by a retreat which is both literal and figurative. Parts of this experience may have been told before, but never with such freshness, intensity and power. This is Ellison's first novel, but he has complete control of his story and his style. Watch it. (Kirkus Reviews)

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