Embodied Voices

Kathie Birat

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Embodied Voices: Literacy and Empathy in Caryl Phillips's <i>Crossing the River</i>
Abstract :
International audience
This article examines Crossing the River from the perspective of empathy, a notion that Phillips himself has evoked in talking about his relation to the subjects he treats in his fiction. The term is first defined and contextualized through a presentation of the theoretical aspects of the question as they have been treated by critics. Particular emphasis is placed on the somatic nature of empathy, seen as a relation between bodies and texts. The novel is then studied in the perspective of empathy; Crossing the River can be seen as a story that not only contextualizes empathy, demonstrating Phillips's understanding of the historical and cultural variability of the notion, but also as one that creates a meaningful tension between intellectual distance and emotional investment. In a final step, the article examines the crucial role played by Joyce's narrative in the creation of the possibility of empathetic response. Joyce's search for a means of inscribing her body in language draws the reader into her perception of the world, opening a space in which the word "empathy" becomes meaningful and pertinent.
Published : 2016
Document Type : Journal articles
Affiliation : Interdisciplinarité dans les Etudes Anglophones - Interdisciplinarity in English Studies (IDEA) ; Université de Lorraine (UL)


Kathie Birat, « Embodied Voices », Cycnos, 2016. URL : https://hal.univ-lorraine.fr/hal-02940158