4 | 2018
Inhabiting the Voids of History in the works of Caryl Phillips

The present volume proposes to re-read the work of Caryl Phillips through the prism of his engagement with history, both the history of the Middle Passage as well as the unread and unspoken history of lives which have not yet made it into official history. His work can be approached as an invitation to reflect on the role of literature and in particular on the specificity of the literary author with regards to the writing of history and the specificity inherent in handling historical material. More largely this question prompts another issue which is: where does history start, and where does it stop? In recent decades, the rise of subaltern history, women’s history and the histories of minorities has largely broadened the spectrum of what history is about.

Absence and loss, mourning and the impossible return are key tropes which haunt the work of Caryl Phillips to the point that the aesthetics which he has crafted over the years seem to weave complex networks of narrative voices which circle voids that are constantly retold, and sounded out. This way of positing the void at the centre is all the more interesting as it constitutes an aesthetic shift from a choice often made in contemporary literature to represent the body, and in particular the wounded body, as a palimpsest of pain which bears witness to the sufferings of the 20th century subject, the post-modern subject and the post-colonial subject. Rather than engage with a thorough and graphic depiction of a suffering body, Caryl Phillips generates a voice which circulates along tangential lines of transmission and prompts the reader to receive and reactivate the salvaged narratives retrieved from archival oblivion. The present volume constitutes a reappraisal of the work of Caryl Phillips up to his most recent novel A View of the Empire at Sunset (2018).

Couverture de

4 | 2018

Spaces of memory, identity, and narration in Crossing the River (1993) and A Distant Shore (2003)

C. Bruna Mancini

Texte intégral

The Power of Maps: Writing Spaces

1In Maps of the Imagination (2004), Peter Turchi observes that every writer is like a cartographer. He/she writes his/her narratives as maps in order to show and rewrite our knowledge, as well as the world we know and live in, in a new way and from a new perspective. However maps are also a means of representation which follows certain conventions and are therefore determined by the coordinates of their time. Obvioulsy, maps are not innocent, just like the landscapes they are meant to represent. As we know, a map is the representation of a place; it shows its shape and location, its natural and artificial features as well as its borders. Indeed, it is the rendering of a very complex space. Above all, it is a selective and subjective representation of a place that plays with what can and/or should, as well as what can and/or cannot, be included. It works on its own sedimentation of history and politics, sometimes showing new paths and different points of view. As Edward Said taught us, there are no apolitical ways to construct a map or discuss a landscape and maps are the products of a negotiation underpinned by socio-economic parameters (Pratt). Our own relationship to our environment is built and negotiated through complex systems of thought that are both conscious and unconscious. Real landscapes are also symbolic, a terrain of submerged fears and desires. Ian Paddy observes that “for every landscape an author uses as setting there is a pre-history of rich associations already built into that place that an author builds upon as he or she adds significations anew” (2015: 24).

2Maps suppose and presuppose a narrativity, which itself functions as a map. In fact, as Tally notes, “In mapping a place, one also tells a story” (2014: 2). Thus, literary cartography seems to represent a fundamental aspect of storytelling, with narratives used to map, understand, and (re)interpret the real-and-imagined spaces of human experience. As readers/decoders we can position these narratives within a spatio-temporal context in order to give a meaningful shape to the world in which we live. In her 2014 book, Sheila Hones writes that “fiction happens in space, is the product of interrelations, emerges in the dimension of coexistence, and is always in the state of becoming” (2014: 69). In short, fiction is like place; it happens in the here and now (Massey 2005: 139) and is made up of multiple interrelations and “interacting theres and thens” (Hones 2014: 70). Moreover, readers are able to engage with “texts not only as narratives of plot events situated in space but also as a literary recognition of the ways authors, characters, plots, events, and even readers participate in the making of narrative space” (Hones 2014: 76). After all, as Hones recalls, Marcus Doel has suggested that space is a verb: “To space – that’s all. Spacing is an action, an event, a way of being” (Crang and Smith 2000: 125). The way in which every single narrative writes/maps spaces is constantly under construction, and has to be considered from different perspectives, considering the point of view of the author – his/her view of the world, its past and its future – and the new knowledge acquired by his/her readers.

Spaces of Memory and Identity

3Caryl Phillips himself seems to be a passionate mapmaker, or rather, a literary cartographer. In his texts he depicts and rewrites spaces and places through the eyes of his characters, who in turn reflect (or are rewritten by) them. His novels and other writings (theatrical, cinematographical, critical, cultural) draw a rich map of migrations, relocations, voyages, escapes, quests intended to inspect, fill, and reveal the ‘voids of history’, with its untold stories, silenced voices, lost gazes. After all, even Phillips’s own life has been (and still is) full of voyages, migrations, and relocations; in fact, he can be described as an “hyphenated author” – Anglo-Caribbean – a term indicating an in-between identity, or a bridge between different cultures. On the other hand, on his official website, he chooses to foreground another perspective, which underlines Phillips’s wanderings: “Caryl Phillips was born in St. Kitts and came to Britain at the age of four months. He grew up in Leeds, and studied English Literature at Oxford University.”1 Moreover, he decided to move to the US, where he lives, teaches and, occasionally, writes. In “Caryl Phillips: A Master of Ambiguity”, Bénédicte Ledent observes that: “The vexing question of belonging is literally at the heart of Caryl Phillips’s writing” (Ledent 2005).

4As Phillips himself writes in “The ‘High Anxiety’ of Belonging”, in order to conform to his own plural and dual conceptions of “home” and “homeland”, he has opted for an “Atlantic identity”: the Atlantic Ocean – the “realm of the beyond”, for Bhabha – is the mobile, complex, interstitial place with which he best identifies. Furthermore, his characters are also in search of themselves, of a place of their own where they can feel “at home”, sheltered and protected. Their paths through mountains, seas, shores, cities, and landscapes sketch a painful and hopeful geography of the diaspora that leads them to a place in which they can finally speak and be heard. For example, in Crossing the River there is a passage which describes Edward Williams spreading out a map of the known world: “(He) stared at the elegant shape of Africa, which stood like a dark, immovable shadow between his own beloved America and the exotic spectacle of India and the countries and islands of the Orient” (1993: 13). Like Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, in which Marlow’s map shows the glories/shadows of colonisation through the blank spaces in the contours of Africa, Phillips’s novel sketches a blueprint to remap and reshape individual identities, as well as a powerful representation of political/colonial prejudice. Furthermore, the very opening of Crossing the River is metaphorically centered on the crossing of boundaries (of every kind):

[…] I turned and journeyed back along the same weary paths. I believe my trade for this voyage has reached its conclusion. And soon after, the chorus of a common memory began to haunt me. For two hundred and fifty years I have listened to the many-tongued chorus. And occasionally, among the sundry restless voices, I have discovered those of my own children. […] Their lives fractured. Sinking hopeful roots into difficult soil. For two hundred and fifty years I have longed to tell them. Children, I am your Father. I love you. But understand. There are no paths in water. No signposts. There is no return. To a land trampled by the muddy boots of others. To a people encouraged to war among themselves. To a father consumed with guilt. You are beyond. Broken-off, like limbs from a tree. But not lost, for you carry within your bodies the seeds of new trees. Sinking your hopeful roots into difficult soil. (1993: 1-2).

5In this rich prelude, the unnamed father, narrator, and “historical memory” (“two hundred and fifty years old”) has sold his children without a word of explanation, because no words can explain this painful trade. They have been left alone in a place where they can see the big ship that will take them far away from the place where they were born, the only place they could have called home or homeland. The paths look weary, soaked with stories and voices, their lives sinking deep roots into the soil. It is an eloquent landscape, a vibrant space narrating the stories of the strangers who lived there or just passed by, as it was a book of oral history. Later we learn that his family lived in extremey poor circumstances and was starving, which led him to abandon them, as he felt he had no other choice. In fact, this ‘historical’, polyphonic, fragmentary, experimental novel, written by Phillips in 1993, is dedicated to “those who crossed the river”. “To sell (a person) down the river” meant “to sell a slave”, and I think this is characteristic of the way Phillips observes spaces: some essential elements of the landscape, like rivers and seas, in particular, or better, communication and commerce routes of the natural landscapes, possess a reverberating connection with a “silenced” past.

6The imaginary, originary, representative Father of the Prelude – as Gail Low defines the narrating voice in an essay of 1998 – listens to the “many-tongued chorus” of his “children” (“a chorus of common memory”) offering what we can define as a “poetics of the diaspora” and an alternative narrative of freedom and hope, fearlessly reimagining new geographies and new cultural and social meanings (1998: 130). In a way, the Father embodies the voice of the many fathers (and maybe also mothers?) who bring or accompany their children onto the ships, or boats, that will carry them away, if they are so lucky as to reach their destination – as still happens today in many parts of the world. And, maybe, one day they could return, in one way or another (from London, Brooklyn, San Domingo, Harlem), and their voices could be heard again: the voices of the lost children, who were sold like commodities and sent away. After all, the original Father of the prelude waits patiently at the river’s estuary for the chorus to swell, so that amongst the survivors’ voices he can hear those of his lost children, representing the survival and return of all slave descendants. One day, maybe, they will be able to sit down together with the sons of former slave-owners at the table of brotherhood.

7As Edward Said suggests in Culture and Imperialism (1993), we should argue for “overlapping territories and entwined histories” (his stories, or her stories2) in order to articulate the past historically—“to seize hold of a memory as it flashes up in a moment of danger” (1969: 255), as Walter Benjamin puts it in “Theses on the Philosophy of History” (1920)—and for vigilance—“the struggle of memory against forgetting” (1969: 255). Low talks about “recovering the lost potentiality of the past that can redeem the future” (1998: 130): a process of preserving the truth from the “ever-threatening forces of social amnesia”. Phillips likes to do some background research so as to allow the voices of his characters to narrate their stories. As Phillips said in an interview with Maya Jaggi which took place in London in 1993, “I can only hear them after I’ve immersed myself in the research of the background. Once the characters begin to speak back to me, when I recognise their voices (…) then I realise I’m on to something. Have ideas about various pockets and avenues of history in the hope that one of these ideas becomes an obsession” (Nasta 2004: 115).

Spaces and the Power of Narration

8Among Phillips’s recurring concerns, are slavery (its history and legacy), belonging/displacement, identity, family, safety, marginalisation, ethnic discrimination, migration/journeying/quest, as well as metanarration and/or the power of narration. In fact, in Phillips’s stories, some characters narrate stories and experiment with the form so as to craft the best possible narrative, trying to make sense of the past and remember it, or alternatively trying to build a new, redeemed future. Crossing the River is a case-in-point, with its different modes of narration: diary, letter, logbook, journal, personal memories and so on. This complex piece of narration interweaves a kaleidoscope of voices from different places and historical periods. In this way, the reader of Phillips’s narratives has to recognise that there is “a common human essence that persists across space and time” (Craps 2008: 193), but also against the spaces of negation and erasure, of silence and subordination, of death and indifference.

9For Paul Gilroy, the idea of diaspora is a “utopian eruption of space into the linear temporal order of modern black politics which enforces the obligation that space and time must be considered relationally in their interarticulation with racialised being” (1993: 198). In Phillips, this “utopian eruption” seems to coincide with three kinds of spaces: 1. the spaces of memory and remembrance, or better, those private inner spaces – or spaces of the self – constantly bumping into or against the present and the public spaces of “reality”, or of the “world outside”; 2. the spaces of identity and belonging, such as family/home/village/homeland, inclusion/exclusion, fear/anger/xenophobia, isolation, exile, security, among others. 3. the space(s) of narration.

10Characteristically enough, in Crossing the River each chapter title describes a different, wide, blurry, elusive, problematic space: “The Pagan Coast”, “West”, “Crossing the River”, and “Somewhere in England”. As we know, each chapter represents the voices and the stories of the three children mentioned in the Prologue (Nash, Martha, and Travis), except for the third chapter, which is centered on James Hamilton’s letters and the nautical logbook of the journey of his slave vessel, The Duke of York. This short, heterogeneous, fluid piece of narrative is based on many accounts and documents that tell the reader about the difficult journeys undertaken by slave ships during the ‘Middle Passage’ voyage across the Atlantic, and, in particular, in John Newton’s eighteenth-century Journal of Slave Trader (1750-1754). Thus, Phillips leaves room for the ‘space of masters’: another problematic, dehumanizing, contradictory space that shows the incompatibility between a slave owner’s occupation and Christian beliefs.

11In the novel, it seems that each chapter and each space described explores, enlarges, and questions the very notions of belonging, home, freedom, family, safety. Liberia, for example, which is fleetingly presented as a paradise (or the return to paradise), a place in which a “colored person can enjoy his liberty” (1993: 18) – away from America, the problematic place of his/her “re‑creation” as a “civilised” person and as a slave – is also considered as a new place of “darkness” and colonisation. We realise that ex-slaves can find their freedom from racism there, but their moral goal does reproduce the Manichean logic of the colonial mind which has shaped (or reshaped) them: they have to divest the natives of their “robes of ignorance which drape the shoulders of fellow blacks” (1993: 21). Moreover, we come to know – together with the narrator – that the white settlers are engaged in a slave trade project conducted under the banner of the American flag. The reader has to mediate between the different perspectives, to reflect upon the blurring of boundaries, concepts, ideologies. As Nash Williams writes in his last letter from Liberia to his “dear Father”, “Creator” and Master, his new country, the place in which he has been “repatriated” – although not free from famine, war, sickness, and death – will compare favorably with any other part of the habitable world:

This missionary work, this process of persuasion, is futile amongst these people, for they never truly pray to the Christian God, they merely pray to their own gods in Christian guise, for the American God does not even resemble them in that most fundamental of features. […] I believed fiercely in all that you related to me, and fervently hoped that one day I might be worthy of the name I bore, the learning I had been blessed with, and the kind attentions of a master with the teachings of the Lord fused into his soul. That my faith in you is broken, is evident. You, my father, did sow the seed, and it sprouted forth with vigor, but for many years now there has been nobody to tend to it, and being abandoned it has withered away and died. Your work is complete. It only remains for me once more to urge you to remain to your country. (1993: 62-3)

12The questioning, rewriting, or reconsidering of such concepts as “home” (“homeland”, “homelessness”, “homesickness”, “identity”, “nation”) and “refuge” (“shelter”, “family”, “security”, “isolation”) are central to Phillips’s narrative and particularly so in these two novels. After all, Phillips’s mobile, interstitial, fluid concept of ‘home’ – as his Atlantic identity shows – is a metaphorical site of inbetweenness and escape, celebrating the water as a source of connectedness. In an interview with Paula Goodman published in 2009, Caryl Phillips said that “it’s ok to have a multiple sense of home. It’s ok that home can’t just be summed up in one sentence […] it’s time to let go of the necessity to be rooted, because with it comes all sort of unpleasantness” (Goodman 2009: 93). Phillips’s ideas of ‘home’ and ‘refuge’ have always been very complex, ‘fluid’, and ‘transnational’.3 In an essay on cosmopolitanism, Alan McCluskey – quoting the most esteemed authors and critics on the subject – demontrates that Phillips (as an author) has the ability to inhabit different places at once, of being different beings simultaneously, of seeing the larger picture stereoscopically along with the smaller, and – at the same time – to mediate traditions, assuming a distanced, critical, reflective view. After all, as Paul Gilroy stated in 1993, identity can be seen as a process of movement and mediation (Gilroy 1993: 19). ‘Home’ distances itself from a fixed geographical point and opens itself up to egalitarianism, inclusiveness, fluidity.

13For example, A Distant Shore (2003) – a less conventional novel from the point of view of the form, based on (only) two narrative threads centered largely on a single historical moment and within the same geographical space – promotes a critical, inclusive conception of home, identity, and belonging. In McCluskey’s words, “This is achieved by undermining the very impulses that inform all exclusive notions of communities, from the national to the regional and tribal levels” (2013: 2). Indeed, following in the footsteps of John McLeod and Bill Ashcroft, David Ellis writes that this novel depicts the potentiality of post-racial and transnational transformations; this suggestion can be illustrated by the unusual relationship between the two protagonists, Dorothy and Gabriel/Solomon, who embody radically different experiences and sociocultural backgrounds (even if they are both marginalised, rejected, and neglected), but who nonetheless can share the same view of the world. In the novel, the transformations – always in the ‘state of becoming’ – are visible and conceivable directly from the struggles and conflicts that are the result of transnational, inclusive, transgressive mobilities and the opposing attempts (often dull and violent) at preserving the existing system, the untouchable (coherent but unreal) ‘national’ identity. From the opening of the novel, we come to know that “England has changed. These days it’s difficult to tell who’s from around here and who’s not. Who belongs and who’s a stranger” (2003: 3), underlining a state of possible transformation. “Home”, here, is a mutable, fluid concept, providing “the positive potientality for transformation” (2003: 416). Even if no one is really “at home” there, the dystopia reveals some deep gashes in the utopian potentiality. For example, McLeod highlights the moments of interpersonal communication that provide evidence of “Phillips’s binocular focus upon the everyday refusals of racism and division within the grim context of a stubbornly prejudicial milieu” (2008: 13–4). As a result, Dorothy’s place opens up to Solomon’s place and vice versa in A Distant Shore, and then nothing is the same anymore. After Solomon’s violent death – he was found facedown in a canal and nobody seemed to care – Dorothy thinks that “[…] Weston suddenly seems like a strange and empty village, and it feels as though a whole lifetime has passed since the day that Solomon came calling” (2003: 48). In short, she understands that Weston is not the place that she thought she would be retiring in.

The poor man may as well have been living on the dark side of the moon. It was only after I’d been to the pub and had the half of Guinness, and then walked back up the hill, that it finally dawned on me. I slumped down in this chair and realised that there’s no way that I can live among these people. I don’t think they care about anybody apart from their stupid selves, and if this is true then I too may as well be living on the dark side of the moon. […] I listen to the birds singing as the day finally begins to fade behind the viaduct. I turn Solomon lightly over in my mind. Maybe I should visit the small stone church and say some kind of a prayer to my friend? And then one final trip to town to put flowers on Mum and Dad’s grave? And then what? Off to some tropical place to tell Solomon’s family? And then? Back here and live with Sheila by the seaside? […] For the first time I want to leave England. To see Spain or Italy. England has changed. (2003: 52)

14But England has not merely changed in Dorothy’s view. It appears more and more as a site of migration within and across its national borders, suggesting a radically transformational state. And again, the characters cross borders of every kind, and face problems, assaults, injustices, prejudices, always with a critical approach, always changing their former status and perspective, pushing the reader likewise to assume a wider, borderless (transnational?) perspective.4

15In The Shelter (1984), Phillips’s stage play which I translated into Italian in 2014, the unnamed eighteenth-century island of the First Part and the North-West London pub setting in the nineties of the Second Part both function as a ‘place aside’, a sort of multicultural, ‘interethnic laboratory’, where the characters/couples (and the spectators) can finally meet and get to know each other, which implies accepting and coming to terms with an ‘Other’, different from oneself. The beach of white sand of Act One, with two sloping palm trees, some pieces of wood, a few coconuts, and some masting, where the two characters – a black man and a white woman – find themselves isolated after the wreck of their ship, transforms itself from an unknown space to a (temporary?) refuge, from a territory to seize control of and fight for5 to the place where they can talk to each other, narrate their own stories, share their sorrows, their fears, their desires.

HIM: You sing well.
HER: I offer it more as a prayer than a form of entertainment. Something to help pass the night.
HIM: [
Quickly, as he moves away from her] And the next day, and the night, and the day after that.
[Pause. The noise of the sea grows angrier]
HER: Did you choose to speak?
HIM: Only if you were listening, lady. Only if you chose to listen. (2014: 74)

16In Act Two, Irene, a white woma, and Louis, a black man, meet in a grimy pub in Ladbroke Grove. As we know, in the fifties, London was the stage of many interethnic fights – like the sadly infamous Notting Hill Riots, when white working-class Teddy Boys displayed a fierce and violent hostility towards black families in the area and, in particular, mixed couples. Miscegenation, a white woman loving and living with a black man, has always been the biggest fear, the greatest taboo. As Louis says:

“A man can go anywhere in this country for a drink, so they tell us. It’s a free country so come and take a drink where you like, brother, so long as you don’t fall in love with any of our women. Fuck them, in private, by all means, but don’t make them feel happy. Just make them feel grateful then leave them and take a drink where you like” (2014: 104).

17In this pub, a public but enclosed space, Louis – a train engineer and a poet from a place where you can “fly close to the sun” (2014: 110) – feels every eye on him and his partner. He suffers from other people’s prejudices, while Irene is perfectly at ease there. She considers the pub (one of her “places”) a “shelter”, just like Dorothy, in the first chapter of A Distant Shore:

Dad would have liked The Waterman’s Arms, that much I was sure of, for he regarded pubs as a place of refuge. He always used to say that they should be a sanctuary where you can be yourself and not have to watch your p’s and q’s, but this being the case you had to find a pub that fitted you. He’d remind me that they are all different, like people, and while some bring out the good in you and open you up, others close you down and make you quiet so that you just want to sit in the corner and nurse a pint. (2003: 12)

18The Waterman’s Arms is the place which she chooses to put on display the letter written by Solomon’s murderer. Alone in the pub, she walks over to a small notice board and pins the abusive letter, mailing it back to them: “I don’t need it in my house, for it doesn’t belong there. They can have it back” (2003: 55).

19As Ellis writes “National transformations occur precisely at the point where a cross-cultural understanding is achieved at a highly personal level and new linkages and corre­spondences come into view” (2013: 418). Narration and its spaces – spaces of remembrance, of temporary refuge, of communication – are the place where a real encounter and exchange can happen. Narration is the mirror in which we can understand that we are living in a continent that is in the midst of a radical change, of an inevitable transition and transformation. In Colour Me English (2011), Phillips observes that “Europe needs writers to explicate this transition” (2011: 16). Writing (for him) is a socially significant act, and fiction has the moral capacity to function as a bulwark against intolerance: “The first thing we must remind ourselves of, is the lesson great fiction teaches us as we sink into characters and plots and suspend our disbelief: for a moment ‘they’ are ‘us’” (2011: 16).

20Fiction is the only place where different points of view, past and present, inner and outer spaces, different kinds of people and all the different ideas of home (as safety, love, freedom, protection, intimacy, a place of listening and acceptance) can meet, converse, change (perhaps) through memory, remembrance, narration: literature is the space of hope, and the only refuge. Because, as long as we have literature, then we have a chance. As Phillips writes in Colour Me English, “Literature is plurality in action; it embraces and celebrates a place of no truths, it relishes ambiguity, and it deeply respects the place where everybody has the right to be understood” (2011: 16).


Bachelard Gaston, The Poetics of Space [1958], Boston, Beacon Press, trans. M. Jolas, 1994.

Benjamin Walter, “Theses on the Philosophy of History”, In Illuminations, New York, Schocken Books, trans. Harry Zohn, 1969.

Bhabha Homi K., Nation and Narration [1990], London and New York, Routledge, 1990.

Bhabha Homi K, The Location of Culture [1994], London and New York, Routledge, 1994.

Conrad Joseph, Heart of Darkness [1899], London, Penguin, 2007.

Crang Mike, Smith Neil (ed.), Thinking Space [2000], London and New York, Routledge, 2000.

Craps Stef, “Linking Legacies of Loss: Traumatic Histories and Cross-Cultural Empathy in Caryl Phillips’s Higher Ground and The Nature of Blood”, Studies in the Novel, NO40, 2008, p. 191-202.

Cresswell Tim, Place: An Introduction [2004], Chichester, Wiley-Blackwell, 2015.

Eckstein Lars, “The Insistence of Voices: An Interview with Caryl Phillips”, Ariel, NO32.2, April 2001, p. 3-43.

Ellis David, “‘They are us’: Caryl Phillip’s A Distant Shore and the British Transnation”, The Journal of Commonwealth Literature, NO48.3, 2013, p. 411-423.

Girloy Paul, The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness [1993], London, Verso, 1993.

Goodman Paula, Schatteman Renee T. (ed.), Conversations with Caryl Phillips [2009], Jackson, University Press of Mississippi, 2009.

Harvey David, Cosmopolitanism and the Geographies of Freedom [2009], New York, Columbia University Press, 2009.

Hones Sheila, Literary Geographies: Narrative Space in Let The Great World Spin [2009], London, Palgrave Macmillan, 2014.

Ledent Bénédicte, Caryl Phillips [2002], Manchester, Manchester University Press, 2002.

Ledent Bénédicte, “Caryl Phillips: A Master of Ambiguity”, The Caryl Phillips Bibliography, 2005, http://www.cerep.ulg.ac.be/phillips/cpambiguity.html

Low Gail, “‘A Chorus of Common Memory’: Slavery and Redemption in Caryl Phillips’s Cambridge and Crossing the River”, Research in African Literatures, vol. 29 No4,Winter 1998, p. 122‑139.

Massey Doreen, For Space [2005], London, Sage, 2005.

McCluskey Alan, “Cosmopolitanism and Subversion of ‘Home’ in Caryl Phillips’s A Distant Shore”, Transnational Literature, NO6.1 (November 2013), http://fhrc.flinders.edu.au/transnational/home.html

McLeod John, “Diaspora and Utopia: Reading the Recent Work of Paul Gilroy and Caryl Phillips”, in Mark Shackleton (ed.), Diasporic Literature and Theory – Where Now?, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2008, p. 2-17.

Paddy David Ian, The Empires of J. G. Ballard: An Imagined Geography [2015], Canterbury, Gylphi, 2015.

Phillips Carryl, The European Tribe [1987], London, Faber and Faber, 1987.

Phillips Carryl, Crossing the River [1993], London, Bloomsbury, 1993.

Phillips Carryl, The Atlantic Sound [2000], London, Faber and Faber, 2000.

Phillips Carryl, A Distant Shore [2003], London, Secker & Warburg, 2003.

Phillips Carryl, Colour Me English [2011], London, Harvill Secker, 2011.

Phillips Carryl, The Shelter / Il rifugio [1984], trans by C. Bruna Mancini (ed.), Napoli, Liguori Editore, 2014.

Pratt Mary Louise, Imperial Eyes. : Travel Writing and Transculturation [1992], New York, Routledge, 2007.

Said Edward, Culture and Imperialism [1978], New York, Vintage Books, 1993.

Shusheila Nasta, Writing Across Worlds: Contemporary Writers Talk [2004], London and New York, Routledge, 2004.

Tally Robert T., Literary Geographies: Spatiality, Representation, and Narrative [2014], Cambridge, Polity Press, 2014

Tuan Yi‑Fu, Space and Place: The Perspective of Experience [1977], Minneapolis and London, University of Minnesota Press, 2011.

Turchi Peter, Maps of the Imagination: The Writer as a Cartographer [2004], San Antonio, Trinity University Press, 2004.


1 http://www.carylphillips.com/biography.html

2 When asked in an interview whether he felt comfortable about “assuming a female voice” in his novel, Phillips responds: “I don't feel it requires any particular strengths. The deal is really that we all play to our own strings, and you find out where you feel most comfortable. Women’s position on the edge of society – both central in society, but also marginalized by men – seems to me, in some way, to mirror the rather tenuous and oscillating relationship that all sorts of people, in this case, specifically, black people, have in society, and maybe there is some kind of undercurrent of communicable empathy that’s going on” (Nasta 2004: 77).

3 “Necessary Journeys” (2004).

4 McLeod identifies a utopian potentiality in the moment when Solomon, hiding in an abandoned house, having achieved illegal entry into Britain, becomes a source of comfort for a young girl, Denise, who has just revealed a history of parental abuse.

5 “HIM: It would seem to matter not where you people go. Your behaviour remains the same. [He draws a line in the sand with a piece of stick]. I would rather you remained on the further side of this line. HER: And what happens if I venture to cross your line!” (62).

Pour citer ce document

C. Bruna Mancini, « Spaces of memory, identity, and narration in Crossing the River (1993) and A Distant Shore (2003) » dans « Inhabiting the Voids of History in the works of Caryl Phillips », « Lectures du monde anglophone », 2019 Licence Creative Commons
Ce(tte) œuvre est mise à disposition selon les termes de la Licence Creative Commons Attribution - Pas d’Utilisation Commerciale - Partage dans les Mêmes Conditions 4.0 International. Polygraphiques - Collection numérique de l'ERIAC EA 4705

URL : http://publis-shs.univ-rouen.fr/eriac/index.php?id=444.

Quelques mots à propos de :  C. Bruna Mancini

University of Calabria.
Bruna Mancini is Associate Professor of English literature at the University of Calabria. She has published essays on Shakespeare, on contemporary rewritings of Shakespeare, on the fantastic, monstrosity, city/space and literature. She is interested in Cultural Studies, Gender Studies, Colonial and Post-colonial Studies, Translation Studies. She wrote Sguardi su Londra. Immagini di una città mostruosa in 2005, and edited and translated The Mercenary Lover / L´amante mercenario (1726) by Eliza Haywood and Angelica, ovvero Don Chisciotte in gonnella /Angelica, or, Quixote in petticoats (1758) di Charlotte Lennox (entrambe pubblicate nella collana “Angelica”). In 2015 she translated The Shelter/Il rifugio di Caryl Phillips (Liguori), with an Introduction entitled “Across the Atlantic. Caryl Phillips e la questione dell’appartenenze”. She is currently working on gendered spaces and texts, spaces of migration, and spaces of the fantastic.