Invisible Man

Invisible Man

by Ralph Ellison
4.1 205

Paperback(Mass Market Paperback)

$0.37 $0.50 Save 26% Current price is $0.37, Original price is $0.5. You Save 26%.
View All Available Formats & Editions

Item is available through our marketplace sellers.


Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952. A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century. The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be. The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451010308
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 11/01/1968
Product dimensions: 7.00(w) x 5.00(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

Ralph Ellison was born in Okalahoma and trained as a musician at Tuskegee Institute from 1933 to 1936, at which time a visit to New York and a meeting with Richard Wright led to his first attempts at fiction. Invisible Man won the National Book Award and the Russwurm Award. Appointed to the Academy of American Arts and Letters in 1964, Ellison taught at many colleges including Bard College, the University of Chicago, and New York University where he was Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities from 1970 through 1980. Ralph Ellison died in 1994.

Date of Birth:

March 1, 1914

Date of Death:

March 16, 1994

Place of Birth:

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Place of Death:

New York City


Tuskegee Institute, 1933-36

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See All Customer Reviews

Invisible Man 4.1 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 205 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
When I first began reading this book, I admit that it was almost many pages. But as I continued I realized that the journey was necessary. It was a time that needed to be fully understood in all it's primal glory. Racism truly has permeated society. A great book and great read!
clearwatersflowafter More than 1 year ago
I read it over 10 years ago. But it is one of only a handful of books that has stayed with me for years. It significantly changed my understanding and compassion for the black experience in America. It is the descent of an man into obscurity...hidng in plain sight. The haunting images from the book of eyes passing over yours in a crowd, no hint of a recognition of shared humanity, of not being noticed, of being ignored due to preconceived stereotypes were very powerful. Mr. Ellison put into words some thoughts that hover in the background, but rarely reach consciousness.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a good read. What a tremendous journey. This was read for a class. i have to be real honest in that I have really never read anything in this style. It was stimulating, and I found myself reading every chance I had. The invisibility that was portrayed and discovered had an impact on me as a person.
prettybrowneyes More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed reading Invisible Man. There were odd, but meaningful characters. Ralph Ellison, wanted to explain the struggle for African Americans in both the north and the south, and how society conflicts with those issues.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Not many books can change your perspective on the world around you, or make you look at situations differently, but Invisible Man is one of them. This is one of the greatest books written, and I advise everyone to read it. This is a rollercoaster read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read the novel Invisible Man by Ralph Ellison because it contains many of the ideas concerning humanity thatwe tend to think we perfectly understand, but we truly don¿t understand. This novel is good for people who don¿t know much about the horrors of the African Americans during racism. The author portrays the novel with realism that actually brings back the issue of racism rack to life. Also, the author¿s use of vocabulary and method of storytelling is very appealing to readers. The author bases his story on a main character who is invisible to the people around him, but not in reality. The author doesn¿t give this main character a name, which actually makes the reader more anxious page after page to know what happened and wonder who the main character actually is. To be truly honest, when I first seen the book, I thought it was going to be a boring book because it looked very long. However, as they say, ¿Don¿t judge the book by it¿s cover.¿ When I began to read the book, I realized that it was the total opposite of what I have thought. The book was very interesting. No matter how the book was lengthy, I forgot about it¿s long length because of the enjoyment I had when reading the book. The appealing words of the author keep its readers in contact with the book, always wondering what will happen next in the story. One interesting idea about this book is when the author mentions the end of the story is in the beginning. The novel is focused on one particular character with no name, as I said before.In reading this book, you will find out that this character tends to be naïve, in which he never finds out who he really is until the end of the book. This character does not want to be seen by the white society around him. That is because of his color. In the prologue, the author mentions that the main character lives, without paying any rent, in a basement of an apartment that is strictly just for white people. This basement was shut off and forgotten about since the nineteenth century. He doesn¿t go until the dark so no one can see him. Once he was walking and unintentionally bumped into a white man. When he bumped into him, the man called him an insulting name. The invisible man forced him to apologize. However, the man disagreed and continued to curse at him. Then the main character started to beat him and again force him to apologize. After the character beats him and takes out a knife to kill him, he realizes that the man had not seen him. The man turns out to be sleep walking in a night mare. Regardless of being naïve, the main character was very intelligent. He was a very good speaker. Because of his good speech that he once gave at a conference, he earned a scholarship to the Negroes Community College. Because of his intelligence, he was chosen to become the driver for Mr. Norton, a white man working in a job that is high in rank. Instead of showing Mr. Norton the beautiful places in his community, the main character shows him the worst of the community. The main character is not doing that intentionally he just doesn¿t know what he was doing. As he drives by an old lay and a young girl who are both pregnant, Mr. Norton asks him to stop there. Mr. Norton finds out that both the old lady and her daughter were pregnant from the same person they were pregnant from Trueblood, the girl¿s father. After finding out what happened with that family, Mr. Norton doesn¿t feel good and asks the driver to buy him some whisky. Again the narrator takes him to the worst of the community, Golden Day. Mr. Norton gets injured in Golden Day. After Mr. Norton and the main character arrive back to the campus, the director of the college finds out what happened and gets very angry. The director, Dr. Bledsoe, decides to expel The main character from the college. However, what is his fault for being expelled from the college? He just stopped where Mr. Norton asked him to stop.Was he supposed to ignore him? It wa
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is a difficult read because of all the themes and symbolism, in fact there are college course specifically on this book! If you want to get the most out of it I recommend using spark notes as a guide.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison, is a great American novel that shows the uphill struggle that the African-Americans had to go though in the 20th century. Ellison uses the nameless character as a way to show the invisibility of the African-American community in the eyes of white society. Not only does Ellison tell us an interesting story of the nameless character and his journey to realizing his own invisibility, but he writes this novel with such power and brilliance that it means much more to the American society then just another novel. Ralph Ellison cleverly uses motifs and symbols in Invisible Man in order to¿ Motifs are reoccurring themes in a novel, such as the motif of blindness and invisibility in Invisible Man. This use of motifs is seen early in the novel when the narrator is involved in a rumble for the entertainment for the white men in his neighborhood. Ellison cunningly has the narrator and the rest of the members of the rumble become blindfolded by a white piece of cloth. All of the boys are blinded by the white cloth and can not see what they are doing. ¿¿allowed ourselves to be blindfolded with broad bands of white cloth.¿ This passage of the novel can be seen as the boys being blinded by the white influence over them and can not see their own potential as human beings, but instead they are blinded by the whites and treated as animals. The Founder¿s statue at the college has empty eyes, signifying his ideology¿s stubborn neglect of racist realities. Blindness also afflicts Reverend Homer A. Barbee, who romanticizes the Founder, and the narrator himself. This is another masterpiece that Ellison adds in his novel. Ellison makes the Reverend who praises the founder of the college and Mr. Bledsoe blind because he is trying to point out that he is blind in seeing that the founder and Bledsoe are holding the African-Americans back from reaching their ability to do great things. The narrator himself experiences moments of blindness, such as in Chapter Sixteen when he addresses the black community under enormous, blinding lights. ¿¿ stretching away in a curve, I could see rows of blurred faces-then suddenly I was blinded.¿ In each case, failure of sight is a symbol for the lack of insight. The smell of cabbage presents itself periodically throughout the novel to represent poverty. Whenever the narrator encounters the aroma of cabbage it reminds him of the low class upbringing he experienced as a child. ¿Cabbage was always a depressing reminder of the leaner years of my childhood¿¿ Ellison once again shows his brilliance, in having a simple food mean more to the narrator then just a piece of food. When Mary serves the narrator the cabbage it occurs to him that he can not turn down the offer that Brother Jack gave to him earlier in the novel. Ellison has the narrator come to this conclusion in this chapter because the cabbage reminds the narrator of the poverty that the black community is facing and that he needs to try and change their fortune. The Liberty Paints plant is used as a complex symbol in Invisible Man as a way for Ellison to portray his statements about race in American Society. The plant¿s name itself is fascinating with the use of the word ¿Liberty¿ because the American society uses the word ¿liberty¿ to mean freedom. However, no freedom can seen inside of Liberty Paints, in fact only racism can be found embedded in the workings of the paint plant. Ellison uses the paint factory to make his thoughts about racism very clear, in his own way. The optic white paint that the factory is famous for is created by using a small amount of black chemicals that becomes invisible once it is mixed with other ingredients. The briefcase that the narrator keeps carrying around with him is also a symbol that Ellison uses to perfection. The briefcase purpose in the novel is to symbolize the identity of the narrator, along with all the belongings that he places inside. The briefcase was given to him by the white
Guest More than 1 year ago
I was coerced into reading this book as a college sophomore. At least, that was my view at first. However, I am astounded at the power of this book -- the power to take your consciousness totally into a character without ever knowing his name (or the alias he was later assigned). A powerful book for anyone with even a passing interest in race relations or in great literature. Ralph Ellison most certainly deserves the recognition of having written one of the best books of all time.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was among the best i read. i think that anyone interested in reading for fun should try this book. its a great book that changes a boy into a man, in my perspective. this would be ideal for someone to enjoy even if you dont really like to read.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This is a great book about a black boy who survives in a white world. The struggles that he went through is the same of my experience of today. Reading this book shows you the everyday life of many African Americans people, and what they go through in life.
Anonymous 10 months ago
I have the book and i'm i would say about 2 chapters in and from what i have read so far it's a really good book to read. Let me know how you guys like it as well. Relpy to micah.
smg5775 More than 1 year ago
Beautiful prose. I loved the lyricism of his words. His writing flows. This book is a timely today as when it was written and during the time it is set. Unfortunately not much has changed in the U.S. regarding how people are seen or not seen and used. Everyone needs to read this.
MayaMaliyah More than 1 year ago
I seriously feel like this is one of the best books I've ever read. I did read it slowly which I feel like everyone should do. It really got to me. It was such a compelling, thought provoking, eloquently written masterpiece. Even if the reader isn't African American, I feel like there are things to identify with, like human struggle with race aside. I can't believe this book has received one star from some people. I found it so powerful.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Camp Bealby has taken on a new form. With everyone's talents, it's hard to connect with the other's. So tribes have been formed. These are the tribes: <p> Aniphe: The Animal People- anyone with animal powers. <br> Antena: Ice People- Anyone with ice associated powers. <br> Apalache: People of the Other Side- people with ghostly/shadow powers. <br> Moneton: Big Water People- people with water powers. <br> Grende: People of Great Powers- people with super speed, invisibility, mimiking, etc. <br> Henfe: The Hunters- people with good weapon skills. <br> Skin Walkers: The Shape Shifters- self explanatory. <p> For now, that is all the tribes. You can be a member of more then one if your talents enable you to do so. The rules are the same as the old Camp's. No s<_>ex, little drama, no impostering, etc. In your bios, add on your tribe. <p> Map: <br> Main Camp: Next res- the other multi-res books. <br> Bios: Res 11. <p> Leaders of tribes will be voted for by members of that tribe. <p>
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The Invisible Man was something I would never expect. The story was a huge adventure that took place everywhere. The book is about the narrator&rsquo;s personal life and never speaks of his own name. The narrator meets a lot of people and he really sees who is actually there for him. He deals with a lot of situations with Norton and at one point in time, he&rsquo;s not even living in his own home. The narrator is a very generous, caring person. The narrator almost gets killed several times risking his life for people he cares about. Also he really is a &ldquo;go with the flow&rdquo; kind of person. My favorite part of the book is when some girl has an affair with him and he almost gets caught in the act with her husband. Luckily, the narrator doesn&rsquo;t get caught and he easily gets away without the husband finding out. At this point, I thought the narrator is a straight pimp. But then again, the narrator still doesn&rsquo;t even know who he is as a person. The story begins in the south and ends up in New York. What really amazed my mind was when there was a huge riot and Clifton ends up getting killed. The brotherhood was very devastated and takes it out on the narrator. They make him do a protest speech and another riot breaks out and something very detrimental happens, and I can&rsquo;t say what happens. The book was really worth reading and it has a very shocking ending. I recommend this book to everyone!  
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
GingerSnapp More than 1 year ago
This book was so compelling that I had trouble not thinking about it at times when I was working, and I could hardly stop reading to go to sleep at night. I recommend it highly.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book is so sexy
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RiceLS More than 1 year ago
The narrator is an African American man who has worked diligently to become an integral member of a free society. He listens and follows instructions carefully so that he might learn how to join himself to this new equality. He even submits to humiliation from those in power in order to gain a college scholarship to a &quot;state college for Negroes. &quot;The narrator is academically successful and very positive about his future. He envisions using his learning and success to contribute to the betterment of society. Unfortunately, by following instructions and being truthful he unwittingly allows a white trustee of the college to see the reality of black life in the South. For this, his scholarship is rescinded and he is expelled. The college director is furious and says to him: &quot;Why, the dumbest black bastard in the cotton patch knows that the only way to please a white man is to tell him a lie! What kind of an education are you getting around here?&quot; The shamed and confused narrator packs his bags and moves to New York City. Here he plans to earn enough money so that he might return to college and again work toward that goal of true societal equality. The narrator's persuasive speaking style brings him to the attention of The Brotherhood, a mixed race group that purportedly champions equality for all. He becomes a Brotherhood spokesman and believes he has found likeminded individuals. Over time, the narrator again discovers that he is a pawn in a larger agenda that has nothing to do with equality or the betterment of society. It is at this point that the narrator decides to &quot;hibernate&quot; and disassociate himself from the chaotic and senseless society in which he has found himself. He is tired of trying to make a difference in a world in which the rules, and even truth, seem to change at the whim of the powerful.