Let’s move on . . .

If only we all had so much to say that our listeners wished for the contrary. How can anyone be bored when there is so much knowledge to be had? The truly fun parts are when scholars interrupt themselves because of the irresistible urge to comment on their own words and give verbal annotations to their otherwise very structured talks. This is their own passion coming out—true emotion, interest, and engagement with their subjects. I don’t want true scholars to move on. . . . I want to hear those personal touches and go on those mental journeys. These experiences give me a better glimpse of what it is like to be in their minds and know so much about their fields. That might be what you are saying, but what do you think of it? That’s what I want to know. This is Arnold Rampersad, the first scholar to gain complete access to Ralph Ellison’s papers at the Library of Congress. Ralph Ellison, the writer of my second-favorite novel, Invisible Man, was no doubt a complicated man. My gratitude to him for that masterpiece of a novel that will stay with me.

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