Repetition and Reckoning in Crossing tire River

Lanone Catherine

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Abstract :
International audience
In Crossing the River, Caryl Phillips revisits inadequate narratives of History, exploring the Middle Passage, but also repatriation to Africa and the part played by black pioneers. Thus he exposes slavery and racism as a transnational, trans-period process. In Toni Morrison's nove! Beloved, a blurred, surreal narrative evokes the horrors of the Middle Passage, as Morrison opts for the uncountable to convey unaccountable, unspeakable pain. On the contrary, Phillips shows the cold economics of slavery, with dry numbers and a boatload to force the reader to supply the missing narrative of pain. Phillips's reverse tactics plays on repetition (of the number three, of a leitmotif and echoes between the three main stories, and of intertextual echoes) to dramatize impossible reverse passages, the negatives of tales of history. Finally, we shall see that letters function as a conceptual space, what Marie-Lause Pratt calls a contact zone, revealing the attempt to negotiate contradictory cultural demands. Thus repetition and reversal become the key to a new reckoning of the past.
Published : 2016
Document Type : Journal articles
Affiliation : PRISMES - Langues, Textes, Arts et Cultures du Monde Anglophone - EA 4398 (PRISMES) ; Université Sorbonne Nouvelle - Paris 3


Lanone Catherine, « Repetition and Reckoning in Crossing tire River », Cycnos, 2016. URL :