In 1952, Ralph Ellison published Invisible Man, a masterwork of fiction that follows its unnamed narrator through his travails first as a student at an all-black college, where he is expelled; then as a worker at a paint factory, where he causes an explosion and is sent to a mental hospital; and then through his involvement with a black nationalist faction in Harlem. Influenced by the likes of Hemingway, Faulkner, and Eliot, Ellison’s novel defies easy characterization or classification. Yet it continually makes lists of the greatest American novels. What is it about Invisible Man that resonated so strongly with readers of its day, and now?
This event featured Wight Martindale, member of the National Association of Scholars Board of Directors, Herbert William Rice, Professor of English at Kennesaw State University; and Mark Shiffman, Associate Professor of Philosophy, Classical Studies and Social and Political Theory at Villanova University. The discussion was be moderated by NAS Director of Research David Randall.