‘Broken-off Like Limbs from a Tree’: Fractured Identity in Caryl Phillips’s Crossing the River (1993)

Abid Larbi Labidi

Abstract


My major purpose in studying Caryl Phillips’s widely acclaimed novel Crossing the River is to examine, through a close textual analysis, the severe identity crisis inflicted upon slaves under the three-century long slavery institution. I explore how slaves’ tragic rift of separation from their African homelands led to a disastrous loss of identity. I particularly call attention to the ways slavery profoundly ‘shattered’ such identity-shaping factors as home, family, belonging, memory and roots. Quite curiously, this identity destruction was not only undergone by African slaves who experienced The Middle Passage firsthand, but has been ‘transmitted’ to their descendants in the contemporary realities of the black diaspora. I, therefore, look into the historical and psychic continuum that binds the slaves’ experience of home loss with their descendants’ exilic identity and space impermanence. Central to this paper is also the exploration of how the slaves’ identity fracture is reflected at the level of the language, narrative forms, genre mixing, and the temporal and spatial fragmentation Phillips freely experiments with in his narrative.

Keywords: Crossing the River, Caryl Phillips, slavery, identity, diaspora, narration


Full Text:

PDF

References


Achebe, C. (1988). Hopes and Impediments: Selected Essays 1965-1987. London: Heinemann.

Cliff, M. (1984). Abeng. New York: Penguin Books, 1984.

Julien, C. (1997). “The Diaspora and the Loss of Self in Caryl Phillips’s Fiction: Signposts on the Page.” Palara 1, 98-105.

Julien, C. (1999). “Surviving through a Pattern of Timeless Moments: A Reading of Caryl Phillips’s Crossing the River.” In Diedrich, M., Gates, H.L., and Pederson, C. (Eds.), Black Imagination and the Middle Passage. Oxford: Oxford U P, 86-95.

Ledent, B. (1995). “‘Overlapping Territories, Intertwined Histories’: Cross-Culturality in Caryl Phillips’s Crossing the River.” Journal of Commonwealth Literature, 30(1), 55-62.

Ledent, B. (2000). “Ambiguous Visions of Home: The Paradoxes of Diasporic Belonging in Caryl Phillips’s The Atlantic Sound.” Entertext ,1(1), 198-211.

Ledent, B. (2002) Caryl Phillips. Manchester: Manchester U P, 2002.

Oguibe, O. (2001). “Slavery and the Diaspora Imagination.” In Oostindie, G. (Ed.), Facing Up to the Past: Perspectives on the Commemoration of Slavery from Africa, the Americas and Europe. Kingston: Prince Claude Library, 95-101.

Patterson, O. (1998). Rituals of Blood: Consequences of Slavery in Two American Centuries. Washington, D.C: Civitas/Counterpoint.

Phillips, C. (1987). The European Tribe. New York: Farrar Straus Giroux.

Phillips, C. (1991). “Worlds Within: An Interview with Caryl Phillips.” Callaloo, 14(3), 578-606.

Phillips, C. (1993). Crossing the River. London: Vintage International.

Phillips, C. (1994a). “In the Field.” In Crouch, L. (Ed.), One on One: The Imprint Interviews. Toronto: Somerville House Publishing, 51-58.

Phillips, C. (1994c). “Interview with Maya Jaggi.” Brick: A Literary Journal 49,73-77.

Phillips, C. (1995). “Of this Time, of this Place: A Conversation with Caryl Phillips.” Transition 68, 154-161.

Phillips, C. (2001a). “Disrupting the Master Narrative: An Interview with Caryl Phillips.” Commonwealth Essays and Studies, 23(2), 93-106.

Phillips, C. (2001b). The Atlantic Sound. London: Vintage.

Phillips, C. (2002). A New World Order. London: Vintage.

Sharpe, J. (2003). The Ghosts of Slavery: A Literary Archaeology of Black Women’s Lives. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.


Refbacks

  • There are currently no refbacks.




Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.

2010-2019 (CC-BY) Australian International Academic Centre PTY.LTD.

Advances in Language and Literary Studies

You may require to add the 'aiac.org.au' domain to your e-mail 'safe list’ If you do not receive e-mail in your 'inbox'. Otherwise, you may check your 'Spam mail' or 'junk mail' folders.