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Embodied Voices : Literacy and Empathy in Caryl Phillips's Crossing the River

Abstract : This article examines Crossing the River from the perspective of empathy, a notion that Phillips himself has evoked in talking about his relation to the subjects he treats in his fiction. The term is first defined and contextualized through a presentation of the theoretical aspects of the question as they have been treated by critics. Particular emphasis is placed on the somatic nature of empathy, seen as a relation between bodies and texts. The novel is then studied in the perspective of empathy; Crossing the River can be seen as a story that not only contextualizes empathy, demonstrating Phillips's understanding of the historical and cultural variability of the notion, but also as one that creates a meaningful tension between intellectual distance and emotional investment. In a final step, the article examines the crucial role played by Joyce's narrative in the creation of the possibility of empathetic response. Joyce's search for a means of inscribing her body in language draws the reader into her perception of the world, opening a space in which the word "empathy" becomes meaningful and pertinent.
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https://hal.univ-lorraine.fr/hal-02940158
Contributor : Kathie Birat <>
Submitted on : Thursday, September 17, 2020 - 8:11:38 AM
Last modification on : Saturday, September 19, 2020 - 4:23:48 AM

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Kathie Birat. Embodied Voices : Literacy and Empathy in Caryl Phillips's Crossing the River. Cycnos, Revel, 2016, 32 (1). ⟨hal-02940158⟩

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