Wide World of Quotes > Ralph Ellison Quotes


Ralph Ellison
American novelist
(1914-94)



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I am an invisible man. No, I am not a spook like those who haunted Edgar Allen Poe; nor am I one of your Hollywood-movie ectoplasms. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fibre and liquids -- and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, because people refuse to see me... When they approach me they see only my surroundings., themselves, or figments of their imagination -- indeed anything and everything except me.
-- Invisible Man (1952), prologue

Play the game but don't believe in it.
-- Invisible Man (1952)

When I discover who I am, I'll be free.
-- Invisible Man (1952)

I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest... On the other hand, I've never been more loved and appreciated than when I tried to 'justify' and affirm someone's mistaken beliefs; or when I've tried to give my friends the incorrect, absurd answers they wished to hear.
-- Invisible Man (1952), epilogue

All novels are about certain minorities: the individual is a minority.
-- Interview, The Paris Review, Spring 1955

The blues is an art of ambiguity, an assertion of the irrepressibly human over all circumstances whether caused by others or by one's own human failings. They ... constantly remind us of our limitations while encouraging us to see how far we can actually go.
-- Shadow and Act (1964), 'Remembering Jimmy'


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The selection of the above quotes and the writing of the accompanying notes was performed by the author David Paul Wagner.

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