Best 119 of Ralph Ellison quotes - MyQuotes

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Ralph Ellison
By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Every serious novel is, beyond its immediate thematic preoccupations, a discussion of the craft, a conquest of the form, a conflict with its difficulties and a pursuit of its felicities and beauty.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I could hardly get to sleep for dreaming of revenge.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

the world is just as concrete, ornery, vile, and sublimely wonderful as before, only now I better understand my relation to it and it to me.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Perhaps everyone loved someone; I didn't now, I couldn't give much thought to love; in order to travel far you had to be detached, and I had the long road back to the campus before me.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

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 naive. 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!

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I'd been so fascinated by the notion, that I'd forgotten to measure what it was bringing forth. I'd been asleep, dreaming.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Stephen’s problem, like ours, was not actually one of creating the uncreated conscience of his race, but of creating the uncreated features of his face. Our task is that of making ourselves individuals. The conscience of a race is the gift of its individuals who see, evaluate, record… We create the race by creating ourselves and then to our great astonishment we will have created something far more important: We will have created a culture. Why waste time creating a conscience for something that doesn't exist? For, you see, blood and skin do not think!

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

If you can show me how I can cling to that which is real to me, while teaching me a way into the larger society, then and only then will I drop my defenses and hostility, and I will sing your praises and help you to make the desert bear fruit.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

There must be possible a fiction which, leaving sociology and case histories to the scientists, can arrive at the truth about the human condition, here and now, with all the bright magic of the fairy tale.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

The act of writing requires a constant plunging back into the shadow of the past where time hovers ghostlike.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I remember that I'm invisible and walk softly so as not awake the sleeping ones. Sometimes it is best not to awaken them; there are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

If social protest is antithetical to art, what then shall we make of Goya, Dickens, and Twain?

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

You start Saul, and end up Paul,' my grandfather had often said. 'When you're a youngun, you Saul, but let life whup your head a bit and you starts to trying to be Paul - though you still Sauls around on the side.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Power doesn't have to show off. Power is confident, self-assuring, self-starting and self-stopping, self-warming and self-justifying. When you have it, you know it.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Eclecticism is the word. Like a jazz musician who creates his own style out of the styles around him, I play by ear.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Maybe it's just that some of us have had certain facts and truths slapped up against our heads so hard and so often that we have to see them and pay our respects to their reality.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

All novels are about certain minorities: the individual is a minority. The universal in the novel-and isn't that what we're all clamoring for these days?-is reached only through the depiction of the specific man in a specific circumstance.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

It is sometimes advantageous to be unseen, although it is most often rather wearing on the nerves.

By Anonym 17 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Nine owls have squawked out the rules and the hawks will talk, so soon they’ll come marching out of the woodpile and the woodwork—sore-head, sore-foot, right up close, one-butt-shuffling into history but demanding praise and kind treatment for deeds undone, for lessons unlearned. But studying war once more...

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

For, like almost everyone else in our country, I started out with my share of optimism. I believed in hard work and progress and action, but now, after first being 'for' society and then 'against' it, I assign myself no rank or any limit, and such an attitude is very much against the trend of the times. But my world has become one of infinite possibilities. What a phrase - still it's a good phrase and a good view of life, and a man shouldn't accept any other; that much I've learned underground. Until some gang succeeds in putting the world in a strait jacket, its definition is possibility.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Without involvement, there is no commitment. Mark it down, asterisk it, circle it, underline it." Stephen Covey "It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

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.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

That ... is how the world moves: Not like an arrow, but a boomerang.

By Anonym 20 Sep

Ralph Ellison

You're very insistent, but I'm very busy.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

That which we remember is, more often than not, that which we would like to have been; or that which we hope to be. Thus our memory and our identity are ever at odds; our history ever a tale told by inattentive idealists.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Having tried to give pattern to the chaos which lives within the pattern of your certainties, I must come out, I must emerge.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I am an invisible man. I am a man of substance, of flesh and bone, fiber and liquids - and I might even be said to possess a mind. I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Meaning grows in the mind, but the shape and form of the act remains.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

If the word has the potency to revive and make us free, it has also the power to bind, imprison and destroy.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I denounce because though implicated and partially responsible, I have been hurt to the point of abysmal pain, hurt to the point of invisibility. And I defend because in spite of all I find that I love. In order to get some of it down I have to love... too much of your life will be lost, its meaning lost, unless you approach it as much through love as through hate.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Our task, then always, is to challenge the apparent forms of reality-that is, the fixed manner and values of the few, and to struggle with it until it reveals its mad, vari-implicated chaos, its false face, and so on until it surrenders its insight, its truth.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I am invisible, understand, simply because people refuse to see me. Like the bodiless heads you see sometimes in circus sideshows, it is as though I have been surrounded by mirrors of hard, distorting glass. When they approach me they see only my surroundings, themselves or figments of their imagination, indeed, everything and anything except me.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Whence all this passion toward conformity anyway? – diversity is the word. Let man keep his many parts and you'll have no tyrant states . Why, if they follow this conformity business they'll end up by forcing me, an invisible man, to become white, which is not a color but the lack of one. Must I strive toward colorlessness? But seriously, and without snobbery, think of what the world would lose if that should happen. America is woven of many strands. I would recognize them and let it so remain.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

But what a feeling can come over a man just from seeing the things he believes in and hopes for symbolized in the concrete form of a man. In something that gives a focus to all the other things he knows to be real. Something that makes unseen things manifest and allows him to come to his hopes and dreams through his outer eye and through the touch and feel of his natural hand.

By Anonym 19 Sep

Ralph Ellison

The moment I entered the bright, buzzing lobby of Men’s House I was overcome by a sense of alienation and hostility … The lobby was the meeting place for various groups still caught up in the illusions that had just been boomeranged out of my head: college boys working to return to school down South; older advocates of racial progress with utopian schemes for building black business empires; preachers ordained by no authority except their own, without church or congregation, without bread or wine, body or blood; the community “leaders” without followers; old men of sixty or more still caught up in post-Civil War dreams of freedom within segregation; the pathetic ones who possessed noting beyond their dreams of being gentlemen, who held small jobs or drew small pensions, and all pretending to be engaged in some vast, though obscure, enterprise, who affected the pseudo-courtly manners of certain southern congressmen and bowed and nodded as they passed like senile old roosters in a barnyard; they younger crowd for whom I now felt a contempt such as only a disillusioned dreamer feels for those still unaware that they dream—the business students from southern colleges, for whom business was a vague, abstract game with rules as obsolete as Noah’s Ark but who yet were drunk on finance.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Good fiction is made of that which is real, and reality is difficult to come by.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

When American life is most American it is apt to be most theatrical.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I had no doubt that I could do something, but what, and how? I had no contacts and I believed in nothing. And the obsession with my identity which I had developed in the factory hospital returned with a vengeance. Who was I, how had I come to be?

By Anonym 17 Sep

Ralph Ellison

New York!" he said. "That's not a place, it's a dream.

By Anonym 16 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I can hear you say, "What a horrible, irresponsible bastard!" And you're right. I leap to agree with you. I am one of the most irresponsible beings that ever lived. Irresponsibility is part of my invisibility; any way you face it, it is a denial. But to whom can I be responsible, and why should I be, when you refuse to see me? And wait until I reveal how truly irresponsible I am. Responsibility rests upon recognition, and recognition is a form of agreement.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Had the price of looking been blindness, I would have looked.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Ralph Ellison

...she was something more- a force, a stable, familiar force like something out of my past which kept me from whirling off into some unknown which I dared not face. It was a most painful position for at the same time Mary reminded me constantly that something was expected of me, some act of leadership, some newsworthy achievement;...

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I suddenly recall the arpeggios of laughter lilting across the tender, springtime grass-gay-welling, far-floating, fluent, spontaneous, a bell-like feminine fluting, then suppressed; as though snuffed swiftly and irrevocably beneath the quiet solemnity of the vespered air now vibrant with somber chapel bells.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I was looking for myself and asking everyone except myself questions which I, and only I, could answer.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

I feel the need to reaffirm all of it, the whole unhappy territory and all the things loved and unloveable in it, for it is all part of me.

By Anonym 13 Sep

Ralph Ellison

And while the ice was melting to form a flood in which I threatened to drown I awoke one afternoon to find that my first northern winter had set.

By Anonym 15 Sep

Ralph Ellison

There are few things in the world as dangerous as sleepwalkers.

By Anonym 18 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Such was the short bitter life of Brother Tod Clifton. Now he's in this box with the bolts tightened down. He's in the box and we're in there with him, and when I've told you this you can go. It's dark in this box and it's crowded. It has a cracked ceiling and a clogged-up toilet in the hall. It has rats and roaches, and it's far, far too expensive a dwelling. The air is bad and it'll be cold this winter. Tod Clifton is crowded and he needs the room. 'Tell them to get out of the box', that's what he would say if you could hear him. 'Tell them to get out of the box and go teach the cops to forget that rhyme. Tell them to teach them that when they call you nigger to make a rhyme with trigger it makes the gun backfire.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Some people are your relatives but others are your ancestors, and you choose the ones you want to have as ancestors. You create yourself out of those values.

By Anonym 14 Sep

Ralph Ellison

Power, for the writer....lies in his ability to reveal if only a little bit more about the complexity of humanity.