Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

invisible-manFirst published in 1952, Ellison’s nightmare journey across the racial divide tells the unparalleled truths about the nature of bigotry and its effects on the minds of both victims and perpetrators.

As he journeys from the Deep South to the streets and basements of Harlem, from a horrifying “battle royal” where black men are reduced to fighting animals, to a Communist rally where they are elevated to the status of trophies, Ralph Ellison’s nameless protagonist ushers readers into a parallel universe that throws our own into harsh and even hilarious relief.

I must say that the prologue of Invisible Man is awesome. Fabulous. Engaging. And, unfortunately, the best part of this novel.

“I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; not am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone fiber and liquids-and I might even be said to posses a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.” (pg. 3)

At times, Invisible Man is brilliant and at others incomprehensible because it is so long-winded. Long-winded to such a degree that Ellison easily could have compacted his 581 page novel into one of only 281 pages. He had, in my opinion, so little to say that I felt like the entire novel was just a bunch of repetition.

Invisible Man definitely was a difficult read for me and I’m petrified that I’ve missed something important. But by the time I reached the epilogue, I knew I’d understood what I needed to, what Ellison had sought to show me through his nameless protagonist’s journey. The epilogue had some extremely insightful opinions and concepts that made it the second best part of the whole novel. It’s just too bad the middle didn’t continue on with the prologue’s amazing introduction.

Book Mentioned:

  • Ellison, Ralph. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage, 1995. Originally published 1952. Print. 581 pgs. ISBN: 0679732764. Source: PaperBackSwap.
Book Cover © Vintage. Retrieved: November 14, 2008.


  1. “He had, in my opinion, so little to say that I felt like the entire novel was just a bunch of repetition.”

    Interesting, considering it’s a topics where one could say so much! Maybe him trying to demonstrate a literary style was done at the expense of The Point?


  2. I have this one on my shelf and plan to read it eventually as part of my classics project. I like hearing so-so reactions to classics — it makes me feel like it’s ok if I don’t love them!


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