Happy birthday, Ralph Ellison. The late author is perhaps most famous for his 1952 existentialist novel, Invisible Man, which touched upon issues facing African-Americans, as told through one man’s search for his identity in New York City during the 1930s. The title spent 16 weeks on the best-seller list and won the prestigious National Book Award for Fiction in 1953. Ellison’s use of the nameless protagonist echoes themes of social blindness throughout the novel. The narrator describes himself as “invisible” in the prologue:
I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allan Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids — and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.
Sometimes misunderstood, other times preferring…
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