Ralph Ellison

Literary Birthday – 1 March – Ralph Ellison

Ralph Ellison was born 1 March 1914, and died 16 April 1994.

Ralph Ellison: Nine Writing Quotes

  1. By and large, the critics and readers gave me an affirmed sense of my identity as a writer. You might know this within yourself, but to have it affirmed by others is of utmost importance. Writing is, after all, a form of communication.
  2. The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike.
  3. Good fiction is made of that which is real, and reality is difficult to come by.
  4. All novels are about certain minorities: the individual is a minority.
  5. So why do I write, torturing myself to put it down? Because in spite of myself I’ve learned some things. Without the possibility of action, all knowledge comes to one labelled ‘file and forget’, and I can neither file nor forget.
  6. I suspect that all the agony that goes into writing is borne precisely because the writer longs for acceptance.
  7. If the word has the potency to revive and make us free, it has also the power to blind, imprison, and destroy.
  8. I find that a sense of the ritual understructure of the fiction helps to guide the creation of characters. Action is the thing. We are what we do and do not do.
  9. Words are your business, boy. Not just the word. Words are everything. The key to the rock, the answer to the question.

Ralph Ellison was an American novelist, literary critic, scholar, and writer. Ellison is best known for his novel Invisible Man, which won the National Book Award in 1953. He was named after the celebrated poet Ralph Waldo Emerson, by his father who wanted him to become a poet. He taught at New York University from 1970 to 1979. He was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1969.

Source for Image: United States Information Agency staff photographer, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons  https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Ralph_Ellison_photo_portrait_seated.jpg

 by Amanda Patterson

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Posted on: 1st March 2013