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« ‘Survivors all’: Affirmative Connections in Novels by Julian Barnes and Caryl Phillips. »

Abstract : In an interview about Crossing the River, a novel which resonates with the voices of the victims of slavery, racism and marginalisation over three centuries and three continents, Caryl Phillips declared: “I wanted to make an affirmative connection, not a connection based upon exploitation or suffering or misery, but a connection based upon a kind of survival”. Rather than follow the lines of Primo Levi who insisted on the shame of survivors or of Adorno who referred to their “drastic guilt”, my aim in this essay is to explore the affirmative connections between survivors of genocides, conflicts and disasters at different times and places of history as depicted in Julian Barnes’s A History of the World in 10 ½ Chapters (1989) and in several novels by Caryl Phillips, notably Higher Ground (1989), Crossing the River (1993) and The Nature of Blood (1997). Drawing, among other sources, from Michael Rothberg’s concepts of “knots of memory” and “multidirectional memory”, I will examine how Barnes and Phillips relate histories and memories of slavery, genocide, colonialism and the Holocaust across different periods and generations and create connections between characters from various times and places, who survived – either literally or through the means of narration – thanks to unexpected resources of resilience, solidarity and interdependence in the face of vulnerability and precariousness.
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Contributor : Vanessa Guignery Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Sunday, December 26, 2021 - 5:28:10 PM
Last modification on : Thursday, August 25, 2022 - 1:44:06 PM


  • HAL Id : halshs-03502902, version 1


Guignery Vanessa. « ‘Survivors all’: Affirmative Connections in Novels by Julian Barnes and Caryl Phillips. ». The Ethics of Survival in Contemporary Literature and Culture. Eds. Rudolf Freiburg and Gerd Bayer., Palgrave Macmillan, pp.69-87, 2021, 978-3-030-83422-7. ⟨halshs-03502902⟩



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