Tuesday, March 1, 2005

It's Ralph Ellison's birthday

He was born March 1, 1914; died April 16, 1994. The author of Invisible Man (1952), one of the permanent American novels.

Here is Ellison on the blues, the most profound statement about blues that I know, from the essay "Richard Wright's Blues" (1945):

The blues is an impulse to keep the painful details and episodes of a brutal experience alive in one's aching consciousness, to finger its jagged grain, and to transcend it, not by the consolation of philosophy but by squeezing from it a near-tragic, near-comic lyricism.
And from Invisible Man:
America is woven of many strands. I would recognize them and let it so remain. Our fate is to become one, and yet many--This is not prophecy, but description.

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