1000 Books In 10 Years; Vol. 126: Invisible Man, by Ralph Ellison

Invisible Man, which is not to be confused with The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells, tells the story of a young, southern, Black man who struggles to define himself within the confines of America’s white, hegemonic melting pot.  The unnamed narrator wins a scholarship to an all-Black college, which is given to him on the basis of a speech he gave a graduation, but is given to him by white men who would rather see him box other Black youths, than listen to his speech.  His departure from college opens his eyes to the fact that the university is very much an extension of white hegemony, but when he moves north he finds himself thrust into a communist organization which despite the fact it aims to include Blacks, is very much out of touch with the Black community and aims to use it to its own ends.  There is an existentialist element to the novel, and it speaks, critically, of the communist party’s practices (though Ellison doesn’t seem to disagree with communism itself).  It is a long, laborious read, and in finishing it I can’t help but feel that a lot the book’s intent was lost to me.  I simply didn’t  have the keys needed to unlock its meaning, and so I walk away from it feeling a little empty.

 

 

Words I thought I’d look up:

 

Mea culpa: Latin, meaning: My mistake, or I’m culpable.

 

Fusillade:  A sustained attack.

 

Amorphous:  Without shape.

 

Antiphonal:  A church music book.

 

Exhorter:  To urge into action.

 

Deference:  Respect.

 

Diminuendo: Gradually decreasing in value.

Rambler About Rambler

Jason John Horn is a writer and critic who recently completed his Master's in English Literature at the University of Windsor. He has composed a play, a novella and a number of short stories and satirical essays.

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