Group annotations on this page
reeseoathmore on 2012-04-18/Zimbio/ - Invisible Man is a novel written by Ralph Ellison, and the only one that he published during his lifetime (his other novels were published posthumously). It won him the National Book Award in 1953. The novel addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans in the early twentieth century, including black nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marxism, and the reformist racial policies of Booker T. Washington, as well as issues of individuality and personal identity.
In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Invisible Man nineteenth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
In his introduction to the 30th Anniversary Edition of Invisible Man, Ellison says that he started writing the book in a barn in Waitsfield, Vermont in the summer of 1945 while on sick leave from the Merchant Marine and that the novel continued to preoccupy him in various parts of New York City. In an interview in The Paris Review 1955, Ellison states that the book took five years to complete with one year off for what he termed an "ill-conceived short novel." Invisible Man was published as a whole in 1952; however, copyright dates show the initial publication date as 1947, 1948, indicating that Ellison had published a section of the book prior to full publication. That section was the famous "Battle Royal" scene, which had been shown to Cyril Connolly, the editor of Horizon magazine by Frank Taylor, one of Ellison's early supporters.
Ellison states in his National Book Award acceptance speech that he considered the novel's chief significance to be its experimental attitude. Rejecting the idea of social protest—as Ellison would later put it—he did not want to write another protest novel, and also seeing the highly regarded styles of Naturalism and Realism too limiting to speak to the