Download Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the by Saadi A. Simawe PDF

By Saadi A. Simawe

In twentieth-century African American fiction, track has been increased to the extent of faith basically due to its Orphic, magical energy to unsettle oppressive realities, to free up the soul and to create, at the least briefly, a medium of freedom. This assortment explores literary invocations of tune from the Harlem Renaissance to Toni Morrison.

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Extra info for Black Orpheus: Music in African American Fiction from the Harlem Renaissance to Toni Morrison (Garland Reference Library of the Humanities)

Example text

ROBERT HAYDEN, “MIDDLE PASSAGE” Such were the songs of Orpheus: with these the Thracian poet charmed the woodland trees and souls of savage beasts; even the stones were held in thrall by Orpheus’ tender tones. — OVID, METAMORPHOSES Steal away, steal away, steal away to Jesus, Steal away, steal away home, I ain’t got long to stay here. My Lord, He calls me, He calls me by the thunder, The trumpet sounds within-a my soul, I ain’t got long to stay here. 1 2 Black Orpheus Green trees a-bending, Po’ sinner stands a-trembling The trumpet sounds within-a my soul, I ain’t got long to stay here.

In Hélène Cixous’s formulation, woman is “the repressed that ensures the system’s functioning” (67). L’ecriture feminine must exceed the economy of the Logos that would contain it, in order to “[jam] the theoretical machinery itself (Irigaray 1985, 78, 107). For Irigaray, feminine writing is not “specular,” does not privilege sight, but “takes each figure back to 8 Black Orpheus its source, which is…tactile” (79). It is “never fixed” but simultaneous, “fluid” (79, 111), pushing against or exploding established forms and figures.

Music’s power, I will argue with the help of Gilroy and also Julia Kristeva, explodes not out of its opposition to the power or the Word—but out of its location in “the place of alterity,”8 in the gap between signifier and signified. In Kristeva’s (1984) work, critics have usually seen music as synonymous with the Semiotic, which, in dynamic relation to the Symbolic, constitutes the “signifying process” (41). Kristeva’s formulation of these two modalities does at first appear to depend on a fairly conventional use of music.

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