Invincible Man: Ralph Ellison 1914-1994

The words still seep into the reader's marrow, 42 years after they were first ( published. "I am an invisible man," Ralph Ellison declared in the opening sentence of his only novel. "I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me." If they do register his presence, it is as "a figure in a nightmare which the sleeper tries with all his strength to destroy."

Invisible Man, in which a young black relates the surreal events leading to his ultimate isolation, earned best-novel-of-its-time raves from the college of critics. It established Ellison in the permanent firmament of American writers,...

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