Invisible Man

Ellison, Ralph

Ralph Ellison (Ralph Waldo Ellison), 1914–94, African-American author, b. Oklahoma City, Okla.; studied Tuskegee Inst. (now Tuskegee Univ.). Originally a trumpet player and aspiring composer, he moved (1936) to New York City, where he met Langston Hughes, who became his mentor, and became friends with Richard Wright, who radicalized his thinking. Ellison's earliest published writings were reviews and stories in the politically radical New Masses magazine. His literary reputation rests almost completely on one novel, Invisible Man (1952). A classic of American literature, it draws upon the author's experiences to detail the harrowing progress of a nameless young black man struggling to live in a hostile society. Ellison also published two collections of essays, Shadow and Act (1964) and Going to the Territory (1986). His collected essays were published in 1995, and a volume of stories appeared in 1996. For many years Ellison struggled with the writing of a second novel, sections of which appeared (1960–77) in magazines, but it was still uncompleted at his death. Condensing the sprawling mass of text and notes written over four decades, his literary executor assembled the novel Juneteenth, which was published in 1999.

See R. G. O'Meally, ed., Living with Music: Ralph Ellison's Jazz Writings (2001); biographies by L. Jackson (2002) and A. Rampersad (2007); studies by J. Hersey, ed. (1974), R. G. O'Meally (1980), A. Nadel (1988), M. Busby (1991), E. Schor (1993), J. G. Watts (1995), H, Bytkerm, ed., (2000), H. Bloom, ed. (2003), K. W. Warren (2003), S. C. Tracy, ed. (2004), J. S. Wright (2006), and A. Bradley (2010).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2013, The Columbia University Press.

Selected full-text books and articles on this topic

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man
Harold Bloom.
Chelsea House, 1999
The Critical Response to Ralph Ellison
Robert J. Butler.
Greenwood Press, 2000
The Eye's Mind: Literary Modernism and Visual Culture
Karen Jacobs.
Cornell University Press, 2001
Librarian’s tip: Chap. Five "One-Eyed Jacks and Three Eyed Monsters: Visualizing Embodiment in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man"
Masquerade, Magic, and Carnival in Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man
Shinn, Christopher A.
African American Review, Vol. 36, No. 2, Summer 2002
Writing the Subject: Bildung and the African American Text
Gunilla Theander Kester.
Peter Lang, 1995
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 1 "The African American Double Subject: Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man" and Chap. 2 "A Double Heritage: Invisible Man, Wilhelm Meister and Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass"
"A Slightly Different Sense of Time": Palimpsestic Time in Invisible Man
Singer, Marc.
Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. 49, No. 3, Fall 2003
Heroic Fiction: The Epic Tradition and American Novels of the Twentieth Century
Leonard Lutwack.
Southern Illinois University Press, 1971
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "Invisible Man"
Plunging (outside of) History: Naming and Self-Possession in Invisible Man
Neighbors, Jim.
African American Review, Vol. 36, No. 2, Summer 2002
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