Ralph Ellison Practices


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Photo: caption follows

Ralph Ellison, African-American author and college instructor. Photographer unknown. Photograph, 1961. Courtesy of the National Archives. (61-8989, 306-PS-A).

In his Writers' Project interviews, Ralph Ellison began to experiment with ways of capturing the sound of black speech that he refined in his novel Invisible Man. "I tried to use my ear for dialogue to give an impression of just how people sounded. I developed a technique of transcribing that captured the idiom rather than trying to convey the dialect through misspellings." A Pullman porter Ellison interviewed in a Harlem bar told him, "I'm in New York, but New York ain't in me," a refrain he later borrowed for Invisible Man.


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