Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas

Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas

Jay Watson and James G. Thomas

Print publication date: 2017

ISBN: 9781496806345

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

At the turn of the millennium, the Martinican novelist and critic Édouard Glissant offered the bold prediction that “Faulkner’s oeuvre will be made complete when it is revisited and made vital by African Americans,” a goal that “will be achieved by a radically ‘other’ reading.” In the spirit of Glissant’s prediction, Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas places William Faulkner’s literary oeuvre in dialogue with a hemispheric canon of black writing from the U.S. and the Caribbean. The volume’s seventeen essays and poetry selections chart lines of engagement, dialogue, and reciprocal resonance between Faulkner and his black precursors, contemporaries, and successors in the Americas. Contributors place Faulkner’s work in reciprocally illuminating conversation with writings by Paul Laurence Dunbar, W. E. B. Du Bois, James Weldon Johnson, Jean Toomer, Nella Larsen, Claude McKay, Ralph Ellison, James Baldwin, Ernest J. Gaines, Marie Vieux-Chauvet, Toni Morrison, Edwidge Danticat, Randall Kenan, Edward P. Jones, and Natasha Trethewey, and with the musical artistry of Mississippi bluesman Charley Patton. In addition, a quintet of emerging African American poets offer their own creative responses to Faulkner’s writings, characters, verbal art, and historical example. In these ways, Faulkner and the Black Literatures of the Americas develops a comparative approach to the Faulkner oeuvre that goes beyond the compelling but also limiting question of influence—who read whom, whose works draw from whose—to explore the confluences between Faulkner and black writing in the hemisphere: the common questions framed in their bodies of work, the responses to common problems, precursors, and events.

Table of Contents

African American Poetic Responses to Faulkner

Chiyuma Elliott, Rachel Eliza Griffiths, Derrick Harriell, Randall Horton, Jamaal May

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