Bone, Robert. “Ralph Ellison and the Uses of Imagination.” In A Casebook on Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man, ed. Joseph F. Trimmer, pp. 203–224. New York: Thomas Y. Cromwell Company, 1972.

Joseph Trimmer’s casebook on Invisible Man includes a reprint of Robert Bone’s important 1966 essay on Ellison’s novel. Bone’s interpretive essay examines the metaphor of “masking” that pervades Invisible Man.

Busby, Mark. Ralph Ellison. New York: Twayne Publishers, 1991.

Mark Busby’s study offers the student a concise critical introduction to Ellison’s life and work. In addition to providing a brief biography of the author and a chronology of his major life events and publications, Busby also includes essays explicating each of Ellison’s major works.

Callahan, John. F, ed. Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: A Casebook. New York: Oxford University Press, 2004.

This student-friendly “casebook” gathers together a range of valuable resources on Ellison’s novel. In addition to ten critical essays on a diverse range of topics, the volume also includes Ellison’s own reflective writing on the novel, as well as a perceptive introductory essay.

Callahan, John F., and Albert Murray, eds. Trading Twelves: The Selected Correspondence of Ralph Ellison and Albert Murray. New York: Modern Library, 2000.

This volume collects a selection of letters that passed between Ellison and his close friend, Albert Murray. Like Ellison, Murray was a novelist and essayist, as well as a jazz critic. Trading Twelves documents the friendship between these two prominent artists and reveals the profound influence each had on the other’s thinking and writing.

Ellison, Ralph. Living with Music: Ralph Ellison’s Jazz Writings. Ed. Robert G. O’Meally. New York: Modern Library, 2000.

Living with Music brings together a selection of Ellison’s critical writing on jazz. Ellison spent his college years at the Tuskegee Institute studying trumpet and piano, and much of his early writing focused on music. Understanding Ellison’s perspective on the black tradition of jazz music will help illuminate the many references to music that appear throughout Ellison’s novel.

———. Shadow and Act. New York: Vintage Books, 1995.

Originally published in 1964, Shadow and Act collects a range of Ellison’s essays on American literature and cinema. Some critics have read Shadow and Act as a kind of intellectual autobiography in which Ellison discusses the influences that formed him as a writer and thinker and led him to compose Invisible Man.

Nadel, Alan. Invisible Criticism: Ralph Ellison and the American Canon. Iowa City: University of Iowa Press, 1988.

Alan Nadel’s monograph situates Invisible Man within the broader canon of American literature. Nadel is particularly interested in the many allusions Ellison makes to figures like Ralph Waldo Emerson, Herman Melville, and Mark Twain. More specifically, Nadel investigates how these allusions serve to critique Ellison’s literary forebears and American fiction at large.

O’Meally, Robert, ed. New Essays on Invisible Man. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988.

Robert O’Meally’s edited volume collects six critical essays on Invisible Man by prominent scholars in the field of African-American literature. The essays explore a range of topics, including Ellison’s use of masks, his references to music, and the adversarial nature of the narrative voice.

Tracy, Steven C. A Historical Guide to Ralph Ellison. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press, 2004.

In this edited collection, Steven Tracy gathers essays that help contextualize Invisible Man within the broader cultural and political movements in which Ellison himself was involved. The five main essays that constitute the core of this historical guide will help students understand the various currents that contributed to Ellison’s landmark novel.