Here's a particularly scintillating passage from Crouch:
Ellison appears to have wanted his piece of the crown worn only by two novelists before him, Melville and Faulkner....
Ralph Ellison may well have been up to the challenge that Faulkner threw down because his experience was broad enough to create a reasonable distrust of the academy, although he became, as an inarguably splendid intellectual, a symbol of the academy at its best. He knew how to put historical facts together with lasting ideas and the new conceptions of modern life that were continually changing while adhering to deathless, classical concerns.
Ellison was suspicious of the right and the left, the capitalists and the Marxists, the corporations and the workers, the whites and the non-whites, the rich and the poor, the religious and the atheists, and every other human variation. He was aware of how often those of any persuasion had been wrong as long as the day goes on. This meant that the Ellison vision was fundamentally tragic.