Ralph Ellison Quotes (41 Quotes)


    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.

    Man's hope can paint a purple picture, can transform a soaring vulture into a noble eagle or moaning dove.


    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.

    And the mind that has conceived a plan of living must never lose sight of the chaos against which that pattern was conceived. That goes for societies as well as for individuals.



    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.

    The clock ticked with empty urgency, as though trying to catch up with the time. In the street a siren howled.



    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.


    I felt that even when they were polite they hardly saw me, that they would have begged the pardon of Jack the Bear, never glancing his way if the bear happened to be walking along minding his business. It was confusing. I did not know if it was desirable or undesirable...

    What and how much had I lost by trying to do only what was expected of me instead of what I myself had wished to do?

    I was never more hated than when I tried to be honest. Or when, even as just now I've tried to articulate exactly what I felt to be the truth. No one was satisfied


    I was pulled this way and that for longer than I can remember. And my problem was that I always tried to go in everyone's way but my own. I have also been called one thing and then another while no one really wished to hear what I called myself. So after years of trying to adopt the opinions of others I finally rebelled. I am an invisible man.

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

    It takes a deep commitment to change and an even deeper commitment to grow.

    I am not ashamed of my grandparents for having been slaves. I am only ashamed of myself for having at one time being ashamed.

    The blues is an art of ambiguity, an assertion of the irrepressibly human over all circumstances, whether created by others or by one's own human failing.

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

    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.

    Commercial rock 'n' roll music is a brutalization of the stream of contemporary Negro church music an obscene looting of a cultural expression.

    The end is in the beginning and lies far ahead.


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

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

    I'm not a separatist. The imagination is integrative. That's how you make the new -- by putting something else with what you've got. And I'm unashamedly an American integrationist.

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


    More Ralph Ellison Quotations (Based on Topics)


    Man - Truth - Mind - Sense & Perception - America - World - Life - Art - Writing - Business & Commerce - Humanity - Progress - Actions - Fate & Destiny - Poets - Past - Faces - Walking - Defeats - View All Ralph Ellison Quotations

    More Ralph Ellison Quotations (By Book Titles)


    - Invisible Man

    Related Authors


    Zig Ziglar - Virginia Woolf - Tony Robbins - George Orwell - Aesop - Upton Sinclair - Suze Orman - Michael Crichton - John Gray - Charles Bukowski


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