Writing the Subject: Bildung and the African American Text

By Gunilla Theander Kester | Go to book overview
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In the essay "Coming to Writing," p. 7.
See chapter one, note 13.
I am grateful to Professor Carrie Jaures Noland who suggested that metonymy reflects and defamiliarizes history in a paper on the French poet René Char at the Twentieth Century Literature Conference in Louisville, KY, 1991.
Most critics call her act an act of castration which, properly speaking, it is not. The lack of a term to describe her crime adds resonance to the main point of my argument that in order to form a sense of subjectivity, Eva must invent a new language.
Melvin Dixon, for example, believes that "Eva never gains control over her voice, her past, or her identity" (245). Ward points out that for Eva "Language is not sufficient. It has to be extended as visual thought--woman is queen bee, for example, because visual thinking allows Eva to grasp meaning more completely" (100) and that "the very fictionality of her [ Gayl Jones'] fiction reimmerses us in man's struggle with the greatest demon in his mind: language" (102). Keith E. Byerman mentions that "Eva is describing, in increasingly incomprehensible terms, her poisoning and castrating of the man with whom she lived" (447). None of these critics sheds much light over the differences and difficulties with Eva's use of language.
In her excellent critical study Liberating Voices: Oral Tradition in African American Literature ( Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard UP 1991), Gayl Jones suggests that in The Autobiography of Miss Jane Pittman Ernest Gaines"realizes the potential of voice that was only suggested by Zora Neal Hurston in Their Eyes Were Watching God" (161). But I think that Jones herself has developed a significant response to the problem of a female and an. African American voice in the creation of the first-person narrator in Eva's Man. In Moorings and Metaphors: Figures of Culture and Gender in BlackWomen's Literature


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