Ralph Ellison was born in Okalahoma and trained as a musician at Tuskegee Institute from 1933 to 1936, at which time a visit to New York and a meeting with Richard Wright led to his first attempts at fiction. Invisible Man won the National Book Award and the Russwurm Award. Appointed to the Academy of American Arts and Letters in 1964, Ellison taught at many colleges including Bard College, the University of Chicago, and New York University where he was Albert Schweitzer Professor of Humanities from 1970 through 1980. Ralph Ellison died in 1994.
This audio is a thoughtful, wonderful version of one of the best works of American fiction of the 20th century. Peter Francis James expresses every nuance of the Northern and Southern black, white, and Caribbean dialects Ellison employed, reading with lyrical feeling and passion throughout this well-produced recording. The experiences of the unnamed protagonist in the rural South and in post-World War II Harlem serve as allegories for maturing intellectual, emotional, and moral sensitivities in us all, black or white, rich or poor, 1950s or 1990s. Though blessed with individual gifts, perhaps even with social privilege, we become, like the protagonist, a construct of others' prejudices, expectations, and stereotypesDwe become ambiguous to self, invisible to our own society. The society, attitudes, and institutions of the 1950s play large roles in shaping the invisible hero. It seems a shame that not much has changed: parallel influences seem to have kept us from understanding very much more as a society now than we knew then. Highly recommended for adult fiction collections.DCliff Glaviano, Bowling Green State Univ. Libs., OH Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
"A book of the very first order, a superb book."--Saul Bellow