Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Ellison on Hemingway and literary 'families'

While one can do nothing about choosing one's relatives, one can, as an artist, choose one's 'ancestors'. Wright was, in this sense. 'a relative'; Hemingway 'an ancestor.' Langston Hughes, whose work I knew in grade school and whom I knew before I knew Wright, was a 'relative'; Eliot whom I was to meet only many years later, and Malraux and Dostoevsky and Faulkner, were 'ancestors' -- if you please or don't please!


Do you ask why Hemingway was more important to me than Wright? Not because he was white, or more 'accepted'. But because he appreciated the things of this earth which I love and which Wright was too driven or deprived or inexperienced to know: weather, guns, dogs, hoses, love and hate, and impossible circumstances which to the courageous and dedicated could be turned into benefits and victories.

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