Tuesday, June 17, 2008

At a Loss for Words


Invisible Man
by Ralph Ellison

This is one of those well known books that I had somehow missed reading along the way. About a year ago I read a review in the Washington Post Book World of a biography of Ralph Ellison that sounded really interesting. I had not even known that Ralph Ellison is from my own native state of Oklahoma, and was appalled that he is not celebrated more in our mutual home state. I really want to read the biography, but decided I should read his best known work before cracking it.

Invisible Man is one of those books that is quite a bit of effort, but well worth the time and energy. There are a lot of long descriptions and interior monologues that can be laborious to get through. I can't really say I enjoyed this, because it is sad and painful to read, but this is an important book. Clearly, I am not the first to notice this, since Invisible Man won the National Book Award in pre-Civil Rights America.

The reason I feel at a loss for words is the premise of the book itself. The unnamed narrator is a young black man who is just awakening to the many ways that African-Americans are not only mistreated, but also discounted, overlooked, invisible to the vast majority of white America. The narrator's ultimate disillusionment comes when he gets involved in the Communist party, believing that this is the place where his voice can be heard and systemic change can begin. Imagine his disgust when it becomes clear to him that, for all their politically correct rhetoric, the Northern Communists (known in the book as "The Brotherhood") do not have any more authentic regard for or respect for black people than the most racist Southern Klansman. It is not pretty. Ellison also effectively describes the tensions among African-Americans over the best ways to live alongside whites and make progress as a community. He is clear that we cannot assume that a people is of one mind about anything.

So we can see that it is hard to describe the book. Even to say "I feel like I understand the black experience so much more now" feels presumptuous, and for way too long so many of us presumed way too much. I do feel, though, that Ellison pulled back the curtain just a bit, that his story allowed otherwise oblivious Americans to begin to empathize with black people. This seems like a book that needs to be experienced and lived with rather than described.

The ending of Invisible Man is moving. In spite of all his frustration and anger, even when he does not know what his own future holds, the narrator comes to the conclusion that "the only way to overcome hate is through love." Amen to that.

Reverent Reader

4 Comments:

At 5/10/16, 10:11 PM , Blogger ninest123 said...

air jordan pas cher, michael kors, oakley sunglasses, ugg boots, longchamp outlet, louboutin pas cher, longchamp pas cher, air max, ray ban sunglasses, cheap oakley sunglasses, nike air max, louis vuitton outlet, nike roshe run, sac longchamp, burberry, louis vuitton, louis vuitton, nike air max, nike free, polo ralph lauren outlet, tory burch outlet, nike outlet, chanel handbags, ray ban sunglasses, replica watches, louboutin, ray ban sunglasses, louis vuitton outlet, christian louboutin outlet, replica watches, oakley sunglasses, louboutin shoes, nike free, tiffany and co, prada handbags, uggs on sale, longchamp, longchamp outlet, prada outlet, tiffany jewelry, ugg boots, polo ralph lauren outlet, oakley sunglasses, gucci outlet, oakley sunglasses, louis vuitton, louboutin outlet, ralph lauren pas cher, kate spade outlet, jordan shoes

 
At 5/10/16, 10:26 PM , Blogger ninest123 said...

michael kors outlet, michael kors, burberry outlet online, abercrombie and fitch, replica handbags, tn pas cher, michael kors outlet, michael kors, oakley pas cher, lacoste pas cher, new balance pas cher, kate spade handbags, nike free run uk, hogan, sac guess, coach outlet, nike air max, ralph lauren uk, michael kors, hermes, true religion jeans, coach purses, nike roshe, ugg boots, nike air max, vans pas cher, michael kors outlet, lululemon, nike air max, true religion jeans, north face, coach outlet, north face, vanessa bruno, true religion outlet, ray ban uk, air force, michael kors, mulberry, nike blazer, burberry, timberland, hollister, ray ban pas cher, true religion jeans, hollister pas cher, converse pas cher, michael kors outlet, ugg boots, michael kors outlet

 
At 5/10/16, 10:34 PM , Blogger ninest123 said...

north face outlet, nike air max, hollister, oakley, p90x workout, longchamp, ghd, hollister, north face outlet, asics running shoes, louboutin, nike huarache, converse, baseball bats, celine handbags, new balance, vans, vans shoes, ferragamo shoes, iphone cases, soccer jerseys, herve leger, reebok shoes, insanity workout, nike air max, nfl jerseys, lululemon, mcm handbags, converse outlet, hollister, gucci, timberland boots, birkin bag, valentino shoes, babyliss, ralph lauren, ray ban, nike roshe, wedding dresses, jimmy choo shoes, instyler, bottega veneta, beats by dre, chi flat iron, giuseppe zanotti, nike trainers, soccer shoes, mac cosmetics, mont blanc, abercrombie and fitch

 
At 5/10/16, 10:47 PM , Blogger ninest123 said...

pandora jewelry, wedding dresses, supra shoes, hollister, canada goose outlet, moncler, moncler outlet, canada goose, moncler, montre pas cher, swarovski, canada goose outlet, louis vuitton, moncler, pandora charms, moncler, ugg,ugg australia,ugg italia, doudoune canada goose, pandora jewelry, canada goose, canada goose, louis vuitton, replica watches, karen millen, ugg boots uk, canada goose, ugg pas cher, louis vuitton, coach outlet, thomas sabo, barbour, ugg,uggs,uggs canada, marc jacobs, links of london, moncler, louis vuitton, bottes ugg, barbour jackets, sac louis vuitton pas cher, moncler, pandora charms, swarovski crystal, canada goose uk, moncler, juicy couture outlet, juicy couture outlet

 

Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home