Richard Wright: Intellectual Exile

  • Hazel Rowley


The public intellectual, according to Edward Said, is an ‘outsider’, a ‘disturber of the status quo’,1 ‘someone whose place it is publicly to raise embarrassing questions, to confront orthodoxy and dogma… someone who cannot easily be co-opted by governments or corporations, and whose raison d’etre is to represent all those people and issues that are routinely forgotten or swept under the rug.’2


Black People Public Intellectual Black American Experience Black Writer White Reader 
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  1. 1.
    Edward Said, Introduction, Representations of the Intellectual (New York: Pantheon Books, 1994), p. x.Google Scholar
  2. 4.
    Interview in L’Express, 18 October 1955, quoted in Conversations with Richard Wright, ed. Keneth Kinnamon and Michel Fabre (University Press of Mississippi, 1993), p. 163.Google Scholar
  3. 5.
    Jean-Paul Sartre, ‘Qu’est-ce que la littérature?’, Les Temps Modernes, March 1947.Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Richard Wright, ‘How “Bigger” Was Born’ (1940), in Native Son, Library of America Edition (New York: Harper Perennial, 1993), p. 523.Google Scholar
  5. 11.
    James Baldwin, ‘Many Thousands Gone’, Notes of a Native Son (Boston: Beacon Press, 1984), pp. 30–1.Google Scholar
  6. 12.
    Michel Fabre makes this point in his biography of Richard Wright, The Unfinished Quest of Richard Wright (1973; Chicago: University of Illinois Press, 1993), p. 456.Google Scholar
  7. 13.
    Paul Gilroy, The Black Atlantic (Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1993), p. 173.Google Scholar
  8. 17.
    Henry Louis Gates, Jr, ‘“What’s in a Name?” Some Meanings of Blackness’, Loose Canons, Notes on the Culture Wars (New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), p. 140.Google Scholar
  9. 18.
    James Baldwin, ‘Alas, Poor Richard. Part I’, Nobody Knows My Name (1961; New York: Vintage International, 1989), p. 188.Google Scholar
  10. 21.
    Ralph Ellison, ‘The World and the Jug’, The New Leader, 9 December 1963;Google Scholar
  11. reprinted in Ralph Ellison, Shadow and Act (London: Secker & Warburg, 1967), p. 120.Google Scholar
  12. 23.
    Eldridge Cleaver’s term. See ‘Notes on a Native Son’, Soul on Ice (London: Jonathan Cape, 1969), p. 97.Google Scholar
  13. 25.
    Allison Davis, Leadership, Love, and Aggression (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1983).Google Scholar
  14. 26.
    Arnold Rampersad, Foreword to Richard Wright, Lawd Today! (1963; Boston: Northeastern University Press, 1993), p. ix.Google Scholar
  15. 27.
    Sherley Anne Williams, ‘Papa Dick and Sister-Woman: Reflections on Women in the Fiction of Richard Wright’, in Fritz Fleischmann (ed.), American Novelists Revisited: Essays in Feminist Criticism (Boston, Mass.: G. K. Hall, 1982), p. 397.Google Scholar
  16. 28.
    Beauvoir to Sartre, 11 February 1947, Simone de Beauvoir: Lettres à Sartre (Paris: Gallimard, 1990), p. 300.Google Scholar
  17. 30.
    Simone de Beauvoir, L’Amérique au jour le jour (Paris: Morihien, 1948);Google Scholar
  18. America Day by Day, trans. Patrick Dudley (New York: Grove Press, 1953).Google Scholar
  19. 31.
    Simone de Beauvoir, The Second Sex (1949; Harmondsworth:Penguin, 1976), p. 23.Google Scholar
  20. 34.
    Simone de Beauvoir, Force of Circumstance (1963; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1968), p. 199.Google Scholar
  21. 36.
    Richard Crossman (ed.), The God That Failed (London: Hamish Hamilton, 1949).Google Scholar
  22. 37.
    Caryl Phillips, The European Tribe (1987; London: Picador, 1993), pp. 7–8.Google Scholar
  23. 38.
    Richard Wright, Black Boy (1945; London: Picador, 1993), p. 295.Google Scholar
  24. 39.
    Robert Hughes, Culture of Complaint: The Fraying of America (New York: Oxford University Press, 1993), p. 83.Google Scholar

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© Hazel Rowley 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Hazel Rowley

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