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Runaway GenresThe Global Afterlives of Slavery$
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Yogita Goyal

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9781479829590

Published to NYU Press Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.18574/nyu/9781479829590.001.0001

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Talking Books (Talking Back)

Talking Books (Talking Back)

Chapter:
(p.141) 4 Talking Books (Talking Back)
Source:
Runaway Genres
Author(s):

Yogita Goyal

Publisher:
NYU Press
DOI:10.18574/nyu/9781479829590.003.0005

This chapter takes up questions of literary ventriloquism and surrogate authorship that always plagued the slave narrative and are imaginatively reinvented by such black Atlantic writers as Toni Morrison and Caryl Phillips in their revisiting of Shakespeare’s Othello. To do so, they return to the founding scene of the “Talking Book” of the Atlantic slave narrative, where the slave worries that the master’s book will not speak to him or her. Staging a range of responses to analogy, these writers place slavery next to colonialism and the Holocaust, renovating but also complicating a classic postcolonial project of writing back to the empire in order to decolonize the mind. Their explorations return us to the meaning of slavery itself, its singularity, its relation to narrative, and to modern conceptions of racial formation. Such efforts transform the classic project of writing back to the text of Western authority, evenly negotiating the pull of influence, intertextuality, and adaptation.

Keywords:   postcolonial, black Atlantic, slave narrative, ventriloquism, intertextuality, Toni Morrison, Caryl Phillips, Othello

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