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Invisible Man [Anglais] [Broché]

Ralph Ellison

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Description de l'ouvrage

14 mars 1995 0679732764 978-0679732761 2
Invisible Man is a milestone in American literature, a book that has continued to engage readers since its appearance in 1952.  A first novel by an unknown writer, it remained on the bestseller list for sixteen weeks, won the National Book Award for fiction, and established Ralph Ellison as one of the key writers of the century.  The nameless narrator of the novel describes growing up in a black community in the South, attending a Negro college from which he is expelled, moving to New York and becoming the chief spokesman of the Harlem branch of "the Brotherhood", and retreating amid violence and confusion to the basement lair of the Invisible Man he imagines himself to be.  The book is a passionate and witty tour de force of style, strongly influenced by T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land, Joyce, and Dostoevsky.

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Descriptions du produit

Extrait

Chapter One

It goes a long way back, some twenty years. All my life I had been looking for something, and everywhere I turned someone tried to tell me what it was. I accepted their answers too, though they were often in contradiction and even self-contradictory. I was na?ve. I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer. It took me a long time and much painful boomeranging of my expectations to achieve a realization everyone else appears to have been born with: That I am nobody but myself. But first I had to discover that I am an invisible man!

And yet I am no freak of nature, nor of history. I was in the cards, other things having been equal (or unequal) eighty-five years ago. I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time been ashamed. About eighty-five years ago they were told that they were free, united with others of our country in everything pertaining to the common good, and, in everything social, separate like the fingers of the hand. And they believed it. They exulted in it. They stayed in their place, worked hard, and brought up my father to do the same. But my grandfather is the one. He was an odd old guy, my grandfather, and I am told I take after him. It was he who caused the trouble. On his deathbed he called my father to him and said, "Son, after I'm gone I want you to keep up the good fight. I never told you, but our life is a war and I have been a traitor all my born days, a spy in the enemy's country ever since I give up my gun back in the Reconstruction. Live with your head in the lion's mouth. I want you to overcome 'em with yeses, undermine 'em with grins, agree 'em to death and destruction, let 'em swoller you till they vomit or bust wide open." They thought the old man had gone out of his mind. He had been the meekest of men. The younger children were rushed from the room, the shades drawn and the flame of the lamp turned so low that it sputtered on the wick like the old man's breathing. "Learn it to the younguns," he whispered fiercely; then he died.

But my folks were more alarmed over his last words than over his dying. It was as though he had not died at all, his words caused so much anxiety. I was warned emphatically to forget what he had said and, indeed, this is the first time it has been mentioned outside the family circle. It had a tremendous effect upon me, however. I could never be sure of what he meant. Grandfather had been a quiet old man who never made any trouble, yet on his deathbed he had called himself a traitor and a spy, and he had spoken of his meekness as a dangerous activity. It became a constant puzzle which lay unanswered in the back of my mind. And whenever things went well for me I remembered my grandfather and felt guilty and uncomfortable. It was as though I was carrying out his advice in spite of myself. And to make it worse, everyone loved me for it. I was praised by the most lily-white men of the town. I was considered an example of desirable conduct-just as my grandfather had been. And what puzzled me was that the old man had defined it as treachery. When I was praised for my conduct I felt a guilt that in some way I was doing something that was really against the wishes of the white folks, that if they had understood they would have desired me to act just the opposite, that I should have been sulky and mean, and that that really would have been what they wanted, even though they were fooled and thought they wanted me to act as I did. It made me afraid that some day they would look upon me as a traitor and I would be lost. Still I was more afraid to act any other way because they didn't like that at all. The old man's words were like a curse. On my graduation day I delivered an oration in which I showed that humility was the secret, indeed, the very essence of progress. (Not that I believed this-how could I, remembering my grandfather?-I only believed that it worked.) It was a great success. Everyone praised me and I was invited to give the speech at a gathering of the town's leading white citizens. It was a triumph for our whole community.

It was in the main ballroom of the leading hotel. When I got there I discovered that it was on the occasion of a smoker, and I was told that since I was to be there anyway I might as well take part in the battle royal to be fought by some of my schoolmates as part of the entertainment. The battle royal came first.

All of the town's big shots were there in their tuxedoes, wolfing down the buffet foods, drinking beer and whiskey and smoking black cigars. It was a large room with a high ceiling. Chairs were arranged in neat rows around three sides of a portable boxing ring. The fourth side was clear, revealing a gleaming space of polished floor. I had some misgivings over the battle royal, by the way. Not from a distaste for fighting, but because I didn't care too much for the other fellows who were to take part. They were tough guys who seemed to have no grandfather's curse worrying their minds. No one could mistake their toughness. And besides, I suspected that fighting a battle royal might detract from the dignity of my speech. In those pre-invisible days I visualized myself as a potential Booker T. Washington. But the other fellows didn't care too much for me either, and there were nine of them. I felt superior to them in my way, and I didn't like the manner in which we were all crowded together into the servants' elevator. Nor did they like my being there. In fact, as the warmly lighted floors flashed past the elevator we had words over the fact that I, by taking part in the fight, had knocked one of their friends out of a night's work.

We were led out of the elevator through a rococo hall into an anteroom and told to get Into our fighting togs. Each of us was issued a pair of boxing gloves and ushered out into the big mirrored hall, which we entered looking cautiously about us and whispering, lest we might accidentally be heard above the noise of the room. It was foggy with cigar smoke. And already the whiskey was taking effect. I was shocked to see some of the most important men of the town quite tipsy. They were all there-bankers, lawyers, judges, doctors, fire chiefs, teachers, merchants. Even one of the more fashionable pastors. Something we could not see was going on up front. A clarinet was vibrating sensuously and the men were standing up and moving eagerly forward. We were a small tight group, clustered together, our bare upper bodies touching and shining with anticipatory sweat; while up front the big shots were becoming increasingly excited over something we still could not see. Suddenly I heard the school superintendent, who had told me to come, yell, "Bring up the shines, gentlemen! Bring up the little shines!"

We were rushed up to the front of the ballroom, where it smelled even more strongly of tobacco and whiskey. Then we were pushed into place. I almost wet my pants. A sea of faces, some hostile, some amused, ringed around us, and in the center, facing us, stood a magnificent blonde-stark naked. There was dead silence. I felt a blast of cold air chill me. I tried to back away, but they were behind me and around me. Some of the boys stood with lowered heads, trembling. I felt a wave of irrational guilt and fear. My teeth chattered, my skin turned to goose flesh, my knees knocked. Yet I was strongly attracted and looked in spite of myself. Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked. The hair was yellow like that of a circus kewpie doll, the face heavily powdered and rouged, as though to form an abstract mask, the eyes hollow and smeared a cool blue, the color of a baboon's butt. I felt a desire to spit upon her as my eyes brushed slowly over her body. Her breasts were firm and round as the domes of East Indian temples, and I stood so close as to see the fine skin texture and beads of pearly perspiration glistening like dew around the pink and erected buds of her nipples. I wanted at one and the same time to run from the room, to sink through the floor, or go to her and cover her from my eyes and the eyes of the others with my body; to feel the soft thighs, to caress her and destroy her, to love her and murder her, to hide from her, and yet to stroke where below the small American flag tattooed upon her belly her thighs formed a capital V I had a notion that of all in the room she saw only me with her impersonal eyes.

And then she began to dance, a slow sensuous movement; the smoke of a hundred cigars clinging to her like the thinnest of veils. She seemed like a fair bird-girl girdled in veils calling to me from the angry surface of some gray and threatening sea. I was transported. Then I became aware of the clarinet playing and the big shots yelling at us. Some threatened us if we looked and others if we did not. On my right I saw one boy faint. And now a man grabbed a silver pitcher from a table and stepped close as he dashed ice water upon him and stood him up and forced two of us to support him as his head hung and moans issued from his thick bluish lips. Another boy began to plead to go home. He was the largest of the group, wearing dark red fighting trunks much too small to conceal the erection which projected from him as though in answer to the insinuating low-registered moaning of the clarinet. He tried to hide himself with his boxing gloves.

And all the while the blonde continued dancing, smiling faintly at the big shots who watched her with fascination, and faintly smiling at our fear. I noticed a certain merchant who followed her hungrily, his lips loose and drooling. He was a large man who wore diamond studs in a shirtfront which swelled with the ample paunch underneath, and each time the blonde swayed her undulating hips he ran his hand through the thin hair of his bald head and, with his arms upheld, his posture clumsy like that of an intoxicated panda, wound his belly in a slow and obscene grind. This creature was completely hypnotized. The music had quickened. As the dancer flung herself about w...

Biographie de l'auteur

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.

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Amazon.com: 4.3 étoiles sur 5  467 commentaires
164 internautes sur 176 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Modern Day Parable For Everyman 2 novembre 2000
Par Bruce Whitaker - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
When I first read Ralph Ellison's remarkable Invisible Man I was in college. Having grown up middle class midwestern white, it seemed at the time to be a marvelous piece of work that plunged me into the nightmarishly crushing world of racism from the black perspective. It opened my eyes to racism in a way that I could never have possibly percieved from the perspective of my own limited experience.
Thirty years later I pulled this book from the shelf and reread it on a whim. A number of things struck me on this reading that never occurred to me from my earlier limited youthful perspective.
First of all, Invisible Man is timeless and I find it hard to believe that it was written nearly fifty years ago. This book is about far more than racism, it is about loss of innocence and rape of the soul. It is about exploitation, manipulation, and the gross hypocrisy that exists in our society.
It is a work of great literary merit. Ellison displays verbal virtuosity of great breadth with beautiful and lyric eloquence. It is at times so dark and overbearingly heavy that a sensitive or less serious reader might cry out for relief. It is so relentless in plunging from one nightmarish episode to the next that one can reasonably say that it is often over the top, and yet any fair-minded reader can easily forgive the excesses of Ellison's vision for the importance of the message that it brings home.
Any reader, be he or she black, white, yellow or brown, who must make a way in this world--any reader who attempts to rise from the consciousness of the unprivelidged child or who is a seeker in life, should read Invisible Man as a cautionary tale as well as a great work of art. Please read this book if you have the courage and honesty to see the world through the eyes of the victim. This book has helped me to see those who had often in the past been invisible to me and I thank Ralph Ellison for making it possible.
110 internautes sur 119 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 fantastic--not just about racism 8 juillet 1999
Par Un client - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
This is one of those books I was assigned in English class that I didn't want to read. How wrong I was--this makes my short list of the greatest stories ever written. Ellison creates a vivid and shocking picture of America and society's subversion of individual identity in search of something larger. He said soon after the book was published that "Invisible Man" was not just about the black experience in America, it was an account of every person's "invisibility" in a world that tells us how to think of each other. The African-American protagonist is merely a vehicle for Ellison's much broader social commentary. Complex, heart-wrenching, deeply moving and of course beautifully written, this book is a must-read for anyone who thinks they have a grip on the American experience.
139 internautes sur 157 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius 1 août 2002
Par Bruce Kendall - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
Ellison, Baldwin and Wright formed the triumvirate of great African American male novelists of the past 200 years. Of the three, Ellison may well prove to be the most timeless. While Native Son, Black Boy and Go Tell it on a Mountain are powerful works, they don't quite measure up to Invisible Man, in terms of sheer literary genius.
While Ellison wears his influences on his sleeve (Dostoevsky, symbolist poets, existentialist writers, etc.[he even borrows his title from HG Wells]), his writing never suffers or sinks beneath the weight of literary associations. His was a unique voice and vision.
Like Dostoevsky's Underground Man, Ellison's narrator has essentially beat a retreat from the world. He holes up in a subterranean room, where he reflects on the the injustices society has dealt him. Dostoevsky's narrator purposely bumps into people on the Nevsky Prospect in order to certify that he is visible and just as important as the next man. Ellison's Invisible Man beats and almost kills a white man he confronts on an empty street, also in order to rationalize his own existence.
Both the underground man and the invisible man are filled with self loathing. Yet, in Ellison's work, the narrator does achieve a sort of spiritual progress and affirmative self-knowledge. He goes from being a pathetically exploited non-being that must acceed to the whims and wishes of the white opressor (the often anthologized battle royal scene at the beginning of the book), to a point near the conclusion of the book in which he can state he is free to pursue "infinite possibilities."
Irving Howe, in an overall favorable review of the novel, took Ellison to task on several fronts. He complained that the section wherein the narrator falls in with "The Brotherhood" portrays the communist party in an an unrealistic vein. He was also troubled by Ellison's narrative design: "Because the book is written in the first person singular, Ellison cannot establish ironic distance between his hero and himself, or between the matured "I" telling the story and the "I" who is its victim. And because the experience is so apocalyptic and magnified, it absorbs and then dissolves the hero; every minor character comes through brilliantly, but the seeing "I" is seldom seen." Though I generally have a high opinion of Irving Howe's criticism, I think he's arriving at a conclusion here which entirely deflates his own remarks. Yes, the "I" in Invisible Man is harder to see than the other characters, but that is part of the author's construct. It's the very point he makes over and over throughout the novel. How better to portray an "invisible man?"
If you've never read this important work, try reading the first 40 pages that are on display here at .... It includes the famous battle royal sequence, which is one of the best hook chapters in all of literature. It should be enough to induce you to read the rest of the novel. You are in for an unforgettable read.
33 internautes sur 35 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 A Book That Will Haunt Your Quiet Times 22 août 2000
Par YUSUF LAMONT - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Broché
When I was 12 years old, my father brought home a trunk full of used books from a thrift store. In it was every book imaginable by the leading lights of the African-American literary pantheon. Baldwin, Hughes, Hurston, Wright, Fanon, Brown and of course the weightiest of the tomes at 600-plus pages, Ellison's Invisible Man. I read through all the slimmer volumes and never got around to Ellison until I was in college. Even after hearing all the hype about it for years on end, I was still floored by the book. It was the kind of book you backtrack while reading, retracing chapters you just read to see if the initial impact of the words was really that forceful. I empathized with the book and it's protagonist because having just gone through my early adolescence and teens I sensed his feeling of longing...and need for belonging. Nearing the end of the book, I slowed my pace, afraid of what I would find. After finishing it for many days (weeks, months...) afterward the book haunted my quiet times. It haunted me whenever I thought about it for years afterward. Thus, having just bought the "new" Ellison, "Juneteenth" I also bought the new commemorative "Invisible Man" and decided to read it again first. It was more powerful than before. It's tale of a search for identity in a land where your identity is denied rings even truer in this time of assimilation/balkanization. We live in a time where color-blindness (one form of invisibility) is the alleged goal while denial of recognition and privelege (the more prevalent form of invisibility) is still the unfortunate norm. Beyond being a book of the 50's and the civil rights era, it's even more important as a book for the move to a new millennium...where the lines demarking identity simultaneously harden and blur. And as to the reviewer who was puzzled about the lead character's display of leadership skills and potential while never seeming to live up to it, there is no need for puzzlement. From the teacher busted for drug-dealing, to the born-again pro-footballer busted on Super Bowl eve for solicitation to the present resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, this paradox is perhaps more the norm than we are willing to admit.
12 internautes sur 12 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Audio Readers Beware 29 janvier 2000
Par Caroline - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format:Cassette
Joe Morton does a superb job of reading this moving book. I was outraged to find that the final chapter and epilogue (42 pages in the edition I have) were missing. Random House markets this as unabridged. Where is their quality control? How would a listener ever know this was incomplete without having a print copy of the book? I feel cheated and frustrated. This an important book and deserves to be recorded in full and distributed without false claims. Had it been complete, I would have rated it 5 stars.
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