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Journal Articles Cycnos Year : 2016

Embodied Voices


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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hal-02940158 , version 1 (17-09-2020)


  • HAL Id : hal-02940158 , version 1


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