Postcolonial Narrative and the Work of Mourning
J.M. Coetzee, Wilson Harris, and Toni Morrison
Publication Year: 2004
Published by: State University of New York Press
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INTRODUCTION: Specters of Colonialism
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Postcolonial narrative, structured by a tension between the oppressive memory of the past and the liberatory promise of the future, is necessarily involved in a work of mourning. Its principal task is to engender a consciousness of the unjust foundations of the present and to open up the possibility of a just future, what Morrison’s fugitive slave conceives of as “some kind of tomorrow...
CHAPTER ONE: Speechless before Apartheid: J. M. Coetzee’s Inconsolable Works of Mourning
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The South African Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC), in line with the basic Freudian insight that we are destined to repeat that which we fail to work through, was set up “to establish the truth in relation to past events as well as the motives for and circumstances in which gross violations of human rights occurred, and to make the findings known in order to prevent a repetition of such acts in future...
CHAPTER TWO: Rites of Communion: Wilson Harris’s Hosting of History
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Wilson Harris’s prolific fictional output is best understood as a repeated rite of memorialization. Inviting us to consume the past as sacrament or “universal morsel,” his work leads us to acknowledge our implication in the violence and oppression that constitute the history of modernity. His work strives to bring into being a new “corpus of sensibility” (“History, Fable and Myth” 27)...
CHAPTER THREE: Keeping It in the Family: Passing on Racial Memory in the Novels of Toni Morrison
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Toni Morrison suggests that her determination to make her readers “remember the want” is part of what defines her writing as black. Although some degree of working through takes place within her novels, enabling individuals to come to terms with their personal histories, a racial memory of an “ungovernable” loss (122) prevents her novels from offering closure. Throughout her work, and especially in Beloved...
CONCLUSION: Some Kind of Community
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I began by asking whether it was possible to found community on a recognition of our infinite difference. Giorgio Agamben’s dream of a community that would not be dependent on the affirmation of identity or sameness is echoed by Jean-Luc Nancy’s vision of a “community of others,” a community perhaps only truly realizable in death: “Community...
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Page Count: 152
Publication Year: 2004
Series Title: SUNY series, Explorations in Postcolonial Studies