Caryl Phillips. Writing in the Key of Life
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Writing in the Key of Life is the first critical collection devoted to the British-Caribbean author Caryl Phillips, a major voice in contemporary anglophone literatures. Phillips’s impressive body of fiction, drama, and non-fiction has garnered wide praise for its formal inventiveness and its incisive social criticism as well as its unusually sensitive understanding of the human condition. The twenty-six contributions offered here, including two by Phillips himself, address the fundamental issues that have preoccupied the writer in his now three-decades-long career – the enduring legacy of history, the intricate workings of identity, and the pervasive role of race, class, and gender in societies worldwide. Most of Phillips’s writing is covered here, in essays that approach it from various thematic and interpretative angles. These include the interplay of fact and fiction, Phillips’s sometimes ambiguous literary affiliations, his long-standing interest in the black and Jewish diasporas, his exploration of Britain and its ‘Others’, and his recurrent use of motifs such as masking and concealment. Writing in the Key of Life testifies to the vitality of Phillipsian scholarship and confirms the significance of an artist whose concerns, at once universal and topical, find particular resonance with the state of the world at the beginning of the twenty-first century. Contributors: Thomas Bonnici, Fatim Boutros, Gordon Collier, Sandra Courtman, Stef Craps, Alessandra Di Maio, Malik Ferdinand, Cindy Gabrielle, Lucie Gillet, Dave Gunning, Tsunehiko Kato, Wendy Knepper, Bénédicte Ledent, John McLeod, Peter H. Marsden, Joan Miller Powell, Imen Najar, Caryl Phillips, Renée Schatteman, Kirpal Singh, Petra Tournay–Theodotou, Chika Unigwe, Itala Vivan, Abigail Ward, Louise Yelin
Acknowledgements Bénédicte Ledent and Daria Tunca: Introduction I Caryl Phillips: 25 Years of Writing Peter H. Marsden: Oxford Caryl Phillips: Preamble Caryl Phillips: Colour Me English Kirpal Singh: Caryl Phillips and the Question of Political Identity: Wrestling with Prejudice II Critical Essays Autobiography, Fact, and Fiction Renée Schatteman: Conversations with Caryl Phillips: Reflections upon an Intellectual Life Louise Yelin: Plural Selves: The Dispersion of the Autobiographical Subject in the Essays of Caryl Phillips Bénédicte Ledent: “Look liberty in the face”: Determinism and Free Will in Caryl Phillips’s Foreigners: Three English Lives Joan Miller Powell: Hybrid Inventiveness: Caryl Phillips’s Black-Atlantic Subjectivity – The European Tribe and The Atlantic Sound Caryl Phillips and the Other Writers John McLeod: Vido, Not Sir Vidia: Caryl Phillips’s Encounters with V.S. Naipaul Malik Ferdinand: A New World’s Twilight: Ethics of the Caribbean Writer in Caryl Phillips’s and Derek Walcott’s Essays Imen Najar: Caryl Phillips’s “Heartland” and Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness: Revisiting Fear – An Intertextual Approach Diasporas Stef Craps: Linking Legacies of Loss: Traumatic Histories and Cross-Cultural Empathy in Caryl Phillips’s Higher Ground and The Nature of Blood Fatim Boutros: Bidirectional Revision: The Connection between Past and Present in Caryl Phillips’s Crossing the River Abigail Ward: “The cloud of ambivalence”: Exploring Diasporan Identity in Caryl Phillips’s The Atlantic Sound and A New World Order Wendy Knepper: Caryl Phillips’s Seascapes of the Imaginary Chika Unigwe: The Dis-ease of Multiple Identities: The Nature of Diasporan Identity in Caryl Phillips’s Strange Fruit Britain and Its ‘Others’ Alessandra Di Maio: A New World Tribe in Caryl Phillips’s A Distant Shore Sandra Courtman: Dorothy’s Heart of Darkness: How Europe Meets Africa in A Distant Shore Thomas Bonnici: Negotiating Inclusion in Caryl Phillips’s A Distant Shore Petra Tournay–Theodotou: Strange Encounters: Nationhood and the Stranger in Caryl Phillips’s A Distant Shore Cindy Gabrielle: The Civilized Pretence: Caryl Phillips and A Distant Shore Race and Masks Lucie Gillet: Omnipresent and Everlasting Imperialism: Race and Gender Oppression in Caryl Phillips’s Cambridge and A Distant Shore Tsunehiko Kato: The Dilemma of a Black Entertainer: A Contextualized Reading of Caryl Phillips’s Dancing in the Dark Itala Vivan: The Mask and the Unheimlich in Caryl Phillips’s Dancing in the Dark Dave Gunning: Concentric and Centripetal Narratives of Race: Caryl Phillips’s Dancing in the Dark and Percival Everett’s Erasure Gordon Collier: The Dynamic of Revelation and Concealment: In the Falling Snow and the Narrational Architecture of Blighted Existences Notes on Contributors Index
Bénédicte Ledent teaches English language and Caribbean literature in the English Department of the University of Liège (Belgium). She is the author of a book on Caryl Phillips and of numerous articles on contemporary Caribbean fiction, and editor or co-editor of essay collections on pan-Caribbean literature and African literature in Europe. Daria Tunca is a postdoctoral researcher in the English Department of the University of Liège. Her research focuses on stylistic approaches to African literatures, with a particular emphasis on contemporary Nigerian fiction.
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