On this day…
March 1st, 1914 – Ralph Ellison born.
Ralph Waldo Ellison (March 1, 1914 – April 16, 1994) was an American novelist, literary critic, scholar and writer. He was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Ellison is best known for his novel Invisible Man, published by Random House in 1952. It addresses many of the social and intellectual issues facing African-Americans early in the twentieth century, including Black Nationalism, the relationship between black identity and Marxism, and the reformist racial policies of Booker T. Washington, as well as issues of individuality and personal identity. For most this is a book assigned in English class that people roll their eyes at having to read, but the storyline is so strong and compelling that readers cannot help be pulled into it. I remember reading somewhere that Ellison had said the book was not just about a Black American but about every person’s “invisibility” in a world that tells us how to think of each other and I think that is one of the things that makes it compelling for everyone feels like that at one time or another.
Invisible Man won the U.S. National Book Award for Fiction in 1953. In 1998, the Modern Library ranked Invisible Man nineteenth on its list of the 100 best English-language novels of the 20th century. Time magazine included the novel in its TIME 100 Best English-language Novels from 1923 to 2005.
The Invisible Man has been banned from schools several times over its lifetime in publication, including as recently as 2013 as reported in this huffington post article.