Crossing the River: New Stories to be Told

Oriana Palusci

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Abstract :
International audience
This papers examines Crossing the River by Caryl Phillips as a polyphonie nove!, in which many master narratives about slavery are questioned. Two key issues are introduced: on the one hand the slave ship as afrotrope and on the other hand the concept of postmemory expanded from the memories of Holocaust survivors to include the children of the African diaspora. The fragmented non chronological sequence of events, spaced in time and geographical setting, framed by a prologue and an epilogue, mirrors the writer's intention in probing the role of the British slave trade. The four intertwined sections are analysed considering the marginal nature of the characters, the use of a range of narrative genres, and the complex relationships between master/slave in connection to Christianity, naming, family ties. Phillips shows how the revisited historical past does not produce a grand narrative, but the fragmentation of tales and voices, defined by the English literary and cultural tradition, yet striving to find new ways of expressing feelings and experiences in a language, which, jus! because it challenges old stable patterns has now become a distinctive way of storytelling.
Published : 2016
Document Type : Journal articles
Affiliation : Università di Napoli L'Orientale = University of Naples (UniOr)


Oriana Palusci, « Crossing the River: New Stories to be Told », Cycnos, 2016. URL :