Ellison on his first attempt at a novel.

“In my first attempt at a novel–which I was unable to complete–I began by trying to manipulate the simple structural unities of beginning, middle and end, but when I attempted to deal with the psychological strata–the images, symbols and emotional configurations–of the experience at hand, I discovered that the unities were simply cool points of stability on which one could suspend the narrative line–but beneath the surface of apparently rational human relationships there seethed a chaos before which I was helpless.  People rationalize what they shun or are incapable of dealing with; these superstitions and their rationalizations become ritual as they govern behavior.  The rituals become social forms, and the its one of the functions of the artist to recognize and raise them to the level of Art.”

 

–   Ralph Ellison, From The Art of Fiction: An Interview
the Paris Review (Spring 1955), 53-55 via
Conversationswith Ralph Ellison, ISBN:0878057803,
University of Mississippi Press (1995), page 6.

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