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CLA JOURNAL 133 132 CLA JOURNAL Although an intellectual, King was embraced and revered by those African Americans often at the bottom rungs of the economic/social ladder. These folks, in the strong traditions of orality, claim and tell stories about a King who is at time dramatically different from what intellectual, historical, and biographical treatments of him reveal. Along with King, their heroes include such tricksters as Brer Rabbit and such badmen as Stackolee and John Henry. The Martin Luther King, Jr. of history and the Martin Luther King, Jr. of folk tradition…may seem oppositional, but they are ultimately mirror images of a complex heroic traits that define African American folk tradition. (3) Harris deftly uses her knowledge of black folklore to argue that just as the heroic traditions of Black America permeate oral stories of Brer Rabbit, Stackolee and Railroad Bill, the black literary tradition includes the same ideas about black heroism, which is often fraught with contradictions. Hence, writers explore, question, challenge, or praise King’s iconic status through this folkloric lens. Drawing from seminal works on Black folklore by scholars Lawrence W. Levine and John W. Roberts, Harris presents an approach that is a solid contribution to the study of African American literature in that it emphasizes the connection between the oral tradition and the written one. Despite her compelling reasoning, Harris does seem to leave gaps in her analysis at times. For example, after an extensive discussion of the poems by Nikki Giovanni from the 1960s, Harris spends perhaps a few cursory paragraphs on Giovanni’s more recent works featuring images of King. It leaves one hoping for more analysis that characterizes the bulk of the book. Ultimately, however, Harris achieves her goal of reminding her readers about the connection between culture and literature. Martin Luther King Jr., Heroism, and African American Literature, Harris explains, “grew directly out of a teaching experience” at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in a seminar that studied the influence of Martin Luther King, Jr. on African American Literature (ix). It could be assumed that interacting with students who were born well after the life and death of Martin Luther King, Jr., and who know him only as the institutionalized American hero, gave Harris both challenges and opportunities: the challenge of filling in the historical and political blanks for the students and the opportunity to see King through the eyes of another generation. In this book, Harris does for the reader what she has done for her students—explore a subject thoughtfully and critically with a skillful hand. —Stephanie P. Hankerson, Ph.D. Albany State University Stephanie P. Hankerson is an Associate Professor of English at Albany State University. She holds a Ph.D. in African American Literature from Florida State University. Book Reviews Book Reviews Pfaff, Françoise. Nouveaux entretiens avec Maryse Condé, écrivain et témoin de son temps. Paris: Karthala, 2016. 200pp. ISBN: 978-2-8111-1707-8. Paperback (19/$22). Maryse Condé (Guadeloupe, 1934) is one of the best-known Caribbean novelists and recipient of several literary awards in France, in addition to Guggenheim and Fulbright fellowships. Françoise Pfaff’s new book of interviews with her is a major contribution to scholarship and an update to her foundational Entretiens avec Maryse Condé (Karthala, 1993), published in an augmented English edition, Conversations with Maryse Condé (U of Nebraska P, 1996), which earned a Kayden Translation Award. The give-and-take in July and September 2015 between these two broadly-informed scholars—both witnesses to their times, as the subtitle suggests—provides new, detailed information on Condé’s works and reflects evolutions in intellectual history over the past seventy years, especially as related to Africa and the Diaspora. The book is enhanced by four photographs in color with Condé, her husband and translator, Richard Philcox, daughter Sylvie, Pfaff and Gordes, in the village in southern France where Condé now lives. Bibliographical data is included on Condé’s sixteen novels and their translations, from the first, Hérémakhonon (1976; translated as Heremakhonon, 1982), to the latest, En attendant la montée des eaux (2010; Waiting for the Waters to Rise, not yet translated...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2766-0265
Print ISSN
0007-8549
Pages
pp. 133-137
Launched on MUSE
2021-01-01
Open Access
No
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