" Saving Bodies" - Performance in Crossing the River

Kerry-Jane Wallart

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Abstract :
International audience
This paper tums to the tension between the presence and absence of bodies orchestrated by Crossing the River, and to elements of theatricality and performance. If the novelist grapples with the fact of slavery and its aftermath through a quadruple movement of individuation, it is not to present exemplary cases but rather to draw attention to the singularity of each physical existence. White much criticism around the works of Caryl Phillips scrutinizes phenomena of polyphony and spectrality, I shall attempt to foreground the numerous effects of physicality in Crossing the River. Characters are not mere writers, speakers, or listeners; they are bodies, with their needs and desires, their decrepitude and resilience. Their ghostly qualities are outweighed by a strong presence, which is yoked with role-playing, camivalesque reversais and a general masquerade. I will show how the representation of these bodies bêcomes key to an outlining of the specificity of slavery (when a body is a thing with a mathematical value) and to an empathie reading connecting bodies across time and space in similar experiences of pain.
Published : 2016
Document Type : Journal articles
Affiliation : Réceptions et médiations de littératures et de cultures étrangères et comparées (Orléans) (REMELICE) ; Université d'Orléans (UO)


Kerry-Jane Wallart, « " Saving Bodies" - Performance in Crossing the River », Cycnos, 2016. URL : https://hal.science/hal-03148834