- Birthday, Books, Quotes, Reading, Writing

“The artist must bow to the monster of his own imagination.”

 

Happy birthday, Richard Wright! Here are some quotes from the writer.

 

“All literature is protest.”

 

“The impulse to dream was slowly beaten out of me by experience. Now it surged up again and I hungered for books, new ways of looking and seeing.”

 

“Men simply copied the realities of their hearts when they built prisons.”

 

“Is not life exactly what it ought to be, in a certain sense? Isn’t it only the naive who find all of this baffling? If you’ve a notion of what man’s heart is, wouldn’t you say that maybe the whole effort of man on earth to build a civilization is simply man’s frantic and frightened attempt to hide himself from himself?”

 

“If I could fasten the mind of the reader upon words so firmly that he would forget words and be conscious only of his response, I felt that I would be in sight of knowing how to write narrative. I strove to master words, to make them disappear, to make them important by making them new, to make them melt into a rising spiral of emotional stimuli, each greater than the other, each feeding and reinforcing the other, and all ending in an emotional climax that would drench the reader with a sense of a new world. That was the single aim of my living.”

 

“‘Don’t think I’m so odd and strange…I’m not….I’m legion…I’ve lived alone, but I’m everywhere.'”

 

“‘You are your own law, so you’ll be your own judge.'”

 

“The more closely the author thinks of why he wrote, the more he comes to regard his imagination as a kind of self-generating cement which glued his facts together, and his emotions as a kind of dark and obscure designer of those facts.”

 

“It was this intolerable sense of feeling and understanding so much, and yet living on a plane of social reality where the look of a world which one did not make or own struck one with a blinding objectivity and tangibility, that made me grasp the revolutionary impulse in my life and the lives of those about me and far away.”

 

“And then, while writing, a new and thrilling relationship would spring up under the drive emotion, coalescing and telescoping alien facts into a known and felt truth. That was the deep fun of the job; to feel within my body that I was pushing out to new areas of feeling, strange landmarks of emotion, tramping upon foreign soil, compounding new relationships of perceptions, making new and—until that very split second of time!—unheard-of and unfelt effects with words.”

 

“Men can starve from a lack of self-realization as much as they can from a lack of bread.”

 

“They hate because they fear, and they fear because they feel that the deepest feelings of their lives are being assaulted and outraged. And they do not know why; they are powerless pawns in a blind play of social forces.”

 

“Every movement of his body is an unconscious protest. Every desire, every dream, no matter how intimate or personal, is a plot or a conspiracy. Every hope is a plan for insurrection. Every glance of the eye is a threat. His very existence is a crime against the state!”

 

 

John Madera's fiction may be found in Conjunctions, Opium Magazine, The &Now Awards 2: The Best Innovative Writing, and many other journals. His criticism may be found in American Book Review, Bookforum, The Review of Contemporary Fiction, Rain Taxi: Review of Books, The Believer, The Brooklyn Rail, and many other venues. Recipient of an M.F.A. in Literary Arts from Brown University, John Madera lives in New York City, where he runs Rhizomatic and manages and edits Big Other.

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