22 / CHRONICLESnAn Invisible Man by Russell KirknOPINIONSn”I never desire to eonverse with a man who hasnwritten more than he has read.”n—Samuel JohnsonnGoing to the Territory by RalphnEllison, New York: Random House;n$19.95.nThe late Louis Lomax, columnistnand television personality, hadndelivered a lecture at Ferris State College,nMichigan, when there arose innthe audience a large, militant, blacknactivist. “Lomax,” said this challenger,ngrimly, “do you call yourselfnblack?”n”Do you want that with a small b orna capital B?” Lomax inquired, shakingnhis head.n”Well, Lomax, do you call yourselfnAfro-American?”n”No, brother.”n”Then do you call yourself Negro?”n”No.”n”You mean you call yourself colored?”n”No.”n”Then what do you call yourself?”n”Louis Lomax.”nMr. Ralph Ellison, although for thenmost part he writes about the Negron(the term he employs), also does notnneed to be classified according to pigmentationnor ideological fad: Henstands in his own right as a man ofnletters. A gentieman of presence, he isnone of the more temperate and toler­nnnant writers of our time, urbane andncourageous. He wrote a first novel thatnpresumably will be his last novel: InvisiblenMan (1952), at once realisticnand fantastic, moving and convincing,nthe best American fiction of the pastnseveral decades. Like Santayana, Ellisonncan rest with a single novel and stillnbe numbered always among our principalnauthors of fiction.nOne volume of essays and occasionalnpieces, Shadow and Act, followednInvisible Man. This new collection,nGoing to the Territory, is the only booknMr. Ellison has given us since then.nHe could have made a great deal ofnmoney and obtained a great deal ofnattention by churning out magazinenarticles and sensational novels; butnRalph Ellison is a modest and honestnman of letters, endowed with dignity: anvery rare bird in this age.nIn “The Little Man at Chehaw Station,”nthe first essay in this collection,nEllison touches upon artistic standardsnand the invisible American critic,nlurking behind the stove in the railwaynstation, so to speak. That Little Mann”serves as a metaphor for those individualsnwe sometimes meet whose refinementnof sensibility is inadequatelynexplained by family background, formalneducation, or social status. Thesenindividuals seem to have been sensitizednby some obscure force that issuesnundetected from the chromatic scalenof American social hierarchy. … Innthis, heredity doubtiess plays an importantnrole, but whatever that rolenmay be, it would appear that culturallynand environmentally, such individualsnare products of errant but sympatheticnvibrations set up by the tension betweennAmerica’s social mobility, itsnRussell Kirk is author of Eliot andnHis Age (Sherwood Sugden) and wasnthe 1984 recipient of The Richard M.nWeaver Award for Scholarly Letters.n