Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, New York: Random House, 1952

  1. Christopher MacGowan

Published Online: 24 FEB 2012

DOI: 10.1002/9781444393675.ch52

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook

How to Cite

MacGowan, C. (2011) Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man, New York: Random House, 1952, in The Twentieth-Century American Fiction Handbook, Wiley-Blackwell, Oxford, UK. doi: 10.1002/9781444393675.ch52

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 24 FEB 2012
  2. Published Print: 21 JAN 2011

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9781405160230

Online ISBN: 9781444393675



  • Ralph Ellison, Invisible Man (1952);
  • Ralph Ellison, recalling Invisible Man - that he started writing the novel in a Vermont garage in 1945;
  • Ellison's novel, winning the National Book Award in 1953 - and almost universal acclaim;
  • Invisible Man, an ambitious integration of different literary techniques - as well as African American folklore, blues and jazz;
  • Ellison, countering claims by critics - taking issues, his departing from the protest literature of his early mentor, Richard Wright;
  • Invisible Man's narrative, taking on and shedding - restrictive identities imposed on him by institutions and organizations for their own benefit;
  • narrator, winning his scholarship to the black college - as reward for his speech accepting the position of humility and gratitude;
  • the Brotherhood, just as much as Brockway and Bledsoe - concerned only with furthering its own power and control;
  • key moments of potential understanding, for the narrator - through chance meetings;
  • painful history of the black race in America - narrator reflecting, more crucial that “we, most of all…affirm the principle, the plan in whose name we had been brutalized and sacrificed”


This chapter contains sections titled:

  • Bibliography