Professor and English Department Chair Quentin Miller celebrates what would have been Ralph Ellison’s 100th birthday in an article paying tribute to the author’s Invisible Man, “a novel that remains news more than a half-century after it was published.”
In his article “‘Invisible Man’: Why Ralph Ellison’s Classic Novel Still Matters,” published on Cognoscenti, WBUR's online ideas and opinion page, Miller expresses surprise that his students have not encountered the award-winning novel, published in 1952, until he assigns it.
“I … don’t recall a single student who wasn’t blown away by it,” he writes. “I’m teaching it right now in a survey of American literature after 1865, and there’s no need to give quizzes to make sure my students are keeping up with the reading. They’re hooked.”
Many factors make Invisible Man a classic, according to Miller, but the main reason that it endures is that “Ellison wrote a novel of ideas. Not a single idea, but a host of them.”
Miller discusses the importance of the book, but also the future of the novel, as he invites readers to read or re-read Invisible Man.