Skip to comments.Freeper Reading Club Discussion: "Invisible Man" (Ralph Ellison)
Posted on 11/18/2002 3:34:26 AM PST by PJ-Comix
This month's Freeper Reading Club (now over 100 members) discussion is about Ralph Ellison's "Invisible Man." As I stated when assigning this book, as soon as you think you know where this book is heading, it completely changes directions and surprises you. Upon re-reading "Invisible Man" it seems apparent to me that Joseph Heller, author of "Catch-22," must have read this book since much of the surreal absurdity in "Invisible Man" was reflected in his own acclaimed book years later.
As we saw in "Invisible Man," nobody really saw the man (never named) as he really was. To them he was just a symbol but never really existed as a man. Does this remind you of something nowadays? I sure saw a lot of this in how liberals treat blacks. To them, black people are merely voting blocks to be counted on at election day. Too bad that this strategy didn't quite work this time around.
I really like the section of "Invisible Man" where the man (not named) puts on a hat and sunglasses and is immediately mistaken for Rinehart, another black man who uses his invisibility to assume many different roles. Somehow on the first reading of this book, I missed the significance of this. It sure opened the eyes of the Invisible Man to the possibilities of life.
Also fantastic was the often hilarious look at the internal workings of the Communist Party U.S.A. circa the 1930s era. The character of Brother Jack was right on in it's characterization of a deceitful Communist Party bigwig.
Oh, and one other thing. Can anyone out there tell me why "Invisible Man" (Ralph Ellison book) has NOT been made into a movie. If ever there was a book SCREAMING out to be made as a movie this one is it. Perhaps its Politically Incorrect look at the antics of the Communist Party makes this book too embarrassing for liberals to make as a movie.
All in all, "Invisible Man" is an incredible book! Those of you who didn't read this one missed out on an incredible treat.
And if anybody wants to join the Freeper Reading Club (over 100 members strong) please let me know and I'll put you on the Freeper Reading Club Ping List. The pings are low level since I usually never ping more than once or twice a month, just to let you know when a book discussion has started and to give the next book assignment.
BTW, the next Freeper Reading Club book discussion will be From Here To Eternity by James Jones. This book is probably the GREATEST American novel ever written. Because i want as many Freepers as possible to read this book (Peggy Noonan even wrote a column on why this is an IMPORTANT book to read), I am giving two full months and several holidays to complete From Here To Eternity which will be due on Monday, January 13.
If you want on (or off) of my black conservative ping list, please let me know via FREEPmail. (And no, you don't have to be black to be on the list!)
Extra warning: this is a high-volume ping list.
That was the H.G. WELLS Invisible Man, completely different than Ralph Ellison's book of the same name. This is why I always made sure to mention RALPH ELLISON as the author so there would be no confusion as to what book we're talking about. I sure hope others out there have NOT read the H.G. Wells Invisible Man thinking it was the book that I assigned which was written by RALPH ELLISON.
I purchased "From Here To Eternity" over the weekend and started Chapter 4 last night. Looks to be a great read already. I'll be back here tonight.
BINGO!!! And can you guess why Mr. Norton was so fascinated by that story of incest?
Oh, I made an error in my previous reply. The movie I was Freepmailed about was From Here To Eternity, not Invisible Man. However, this brings me to an important point about the next book assignment. From Here To Eternity, the novel is MUCH DIFFERENT than the movie. In fact, after reading the novel, the movie will seem to be a very hollow shell of what the novel is. So don't think you know the book by merely watching the movie.
You really should finish the book. You left off when it looked like this would be a "hate whitey" type book but soon after that section it changed into something MUCH BROADER.
And what was the problem with the scenes your read about? Nothing much different there than what you would see on HBO or WWF (or that new wimpy WWE name). I really suggest you finish the book. That early scene was about as risque at it got.
I don't know how long you've had the Freeper Reading Club....but it's something I've been thinking would be a great idea....just now saw this thread. Would you please put me on your ping list? Thanks.
It wasn't but scenes like this did happen a lot back in the Jim Crow South. What did you want Ellison to do, gloss over conditions that existed back them? BTW, a lot of liberals would have you believe that conditions for blacks haven't changed since then. However, they did change for the better....DRAMATICALLY. Sorry if you were offended by those scenes but that was the reality of the South (and to some extent the North) back about 70 years ago.
You're on. At this rate the Freeper Reading Club will have 200 members before long. BTW, a few weeks ago Katie Couric had some members of a Miami Reading Club on her show and yet they had fewer than 20 members (Yuppies) plus they read mainly touchy-feely type books. When I saw that and compared it to the size of the Freeper Reading Club, I wanted to pull an Elvis on my TV set.
I read "Invisible Man" in high school and i have to say it was a very difficult book to get through. I have never cared for stream of consciousness. Maybe it is just that my consciousness and theirs do not stream in the same direction.
When I was in the Army in the 60's there were still a few WW2 Vets around and the tales that they told are mirrored in these books, great read.
Oh, try again. I haven't read it in 15 years, but I've read it a couple of times, and it's a great book. I'll have to dig it back out and read it again...
I want to a Catholic prep school and to be left wing was cool, we had alot of assigned reading, "Black Like ME" for example. I was given the "Invisibe Man" by a protohippy and was told that I might find I interesting, it was.
Yes, the book is much different - and better - than the movie. Why does Peggy Noonan stress this is an important book to read. I agree with her, but if you can point me in the direction of her article, I would appreciate it.
Last year I read Black Boy - I forget the author but it was a great read. Sort of like reading about the Nazi attrocities during WW II. Very evil things happened to blacks in the south during the Jim Crow era - and some of those people are still alive who did those things.
I would appreciate it if you put me on the ping list.
Ok. I'm not at home right now but I'll do it when I get back. Thanx.---P.J.
Most literature is poorly taught in high school. Plus your teacher might have had an agenda that had little to do with the theme of the book.
Make that FOUR best novels. Whistle which was the last part of a trilogy starting with the two books you mentioned and Some Came Running.....Oh wait! Make that FIVE best novels. Ask any scuba diver and they will tell you that the BEST novel ever written on the subject of scuba diving is Go To The Widowmaker by James Jones. And there is even an underwater cave named "Widomaker" off the coast of Jamaica named in honor of that novel.
I'll put you on the Ping list and if you follow the book discussions here and read the books, you'll be guaranteed an A in your book reports.
The part that I got hung up on was the 7-page sermon at the University, but once past that, the book pretty much held my attention throughout. I'm still at work so can't say much more. I'll have more thoughts tonight.
Another factor for me is writing style. The style in which the book is written rather grates on me.
All that aside, I will try and work my way through the book, and give it another chance.
Of course it may also have something to do with the long legged redhead sitting next to me.
Please add me to your ping list. I've been meaning to read From Here to Eternity since Noonan's article and this will force me to get it done over Christmas.
This is a great idea, BTW!
Well in this story, Mr. Norton is one of the major trustees (financial contributors) to the black college that our protagonist attends (I will refer to him as the narrator for now on). During the car ride that the narrator takes him on, Mr. Norton blabs on about how fortunate the narrator is for having this wonderful opportunity to better himself, made possible, of course, in large part by himself (Mr. Norton).
In a very patronizing manner, Mr. Norton lectures the narrator on how "your destiny is my own." In other words, Mr. Norton is essentially telling the narrator that any success he might enjoy in life would be because of him (Mr. Norton). But Mr. Norton doesn't really seem to care about the narrator personally. This is borne out later when Mr. Norton fails to stand up for the narrator when he is booted out of college by Bledsoe and fails to answer the narrator's letter when he come to New York. At the end of the book, the narrator makes mention of meeting Mr. Norton in the subway and Mr. Norton either fails to recognize "his destiny" or has long forgotten about him.
In my opinion, Mr. Norton is characteristic of most liberals today. Liberals always make a big show of how much they help the blacks, but in reality, they are keeping them at a distance. They use social welfare programs to keep the blacks in their debt, hoping that it will pay off at election time.
You ask me why Mr. Norton was so fascinated by that story of incest by Trueblood. Well, during the ride with our narrator, Mr. Norton spoke in a curious way about his daughter, who apparently died at a young age while on a European trip that he and his daughter were on alone. Mr. Norton even carried a picture on him of her (that he showed to the narrator) that showed her in a dress of "soft, flimsy" material. More like the picture that a boyfriend or husband would carry around than a father. Perhaps that might explain why Mr. Norton was so interested in the story of incest.
I went to Amazon.com and found that it was an autobiography by Richard Wright. It's got some good reviews there. Guess I'll have to add this to my ever-growing reading list!
I'm too young to remember Jim Crow but since most of my family is from down south (Alabama), I often visit there, but not many in my family are willing to talk about it. My father grew up there during the 1930s and 1940s and remembers how everything was segregated. Blacks and Whites were not allowed to share the same bathroom, drinking fountains and lunch counters, etc. Blacks were made to go to the back of the bus and if they were in a department store, whites were allowed to cut in front of them. It was actually like this up to the 1960s! But like I said, nobody down there wants to talk about it. It's as if they all want to pretend it never happened. My father never went for that kind of thing and I think that is one of the reasons he decided to stay up North after he got out of the Navy. Especially since he served with many black men in the Navy and realized that they weren't the inferior people that some of his kinfolk made them out to be.
You got that right. I can remember my high school "English" classes quite well. I remember being force-fed snippets of Shakespeare or "Tale Of Two Cities" by Dickens. We were never allowed to absorb the literature. Instead, we focused on one or two chapters and then moved quickly on the next subject. When the teacher did assign an entire book, most of the class cheated by getting "Cliff Notes" and they often ended up getting the best grades on their paper. It was discouraging.
I'm poorly and haphazardly read, but I'm getting better. I just finished a book called "Mephisto Waltz" (Stewart) and I'm now reading "Starship Troopers" (Heinlein) and "Bias" (Goldberg). I wanted to check out "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" as per recommendations here, but they didn't have it.
Or reading Classics Comics.
Yeah, that is kind of interesting. BTW, did you know that Fritz Hollings used to be Attorney General for South Carolina and was one of the leaders in the fight to preserve segregation? You won't hear him talking about it either.
It wouldn't surprise me if Brother Jack was based directly on a comrade that Ellison knew in the CPUSA.
Anyway, things really got bizarre for a while when the narrator went downstairs with Lucius Brockway.
Also funny since Brockway was a real nutcase.
Only difference is, Dr. Bledsoe had an actual job and probably did real work. For some reason, I thought of D.C. mayor Marion Barry. I don't know much about Barry (other then his drug bust) but he seems like a flawed man who manages to hold on to power no matter what.
I'm an avid reader... when I'm not online reading FR. I remember the first book that had a lasting affect on me. I read "The Ugly American" when I was about 14. I credit that book with starting me down the long road toward the Vast Right Wing.
I'll probably be assigning that book down the road. Col. Lansdale of the CIA was fictionalized as a character in that book.
Also I'm re-reading a lot of books and noticing how much I missed on the first go-around.
Anyway, as always, you have been the most active participant in the Freeper Reading Club. Perhaps I should prescribe Sam Adams beer for the others to drink to inspire them to read more.