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History and Race in Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood
An examination of the novel by Maria Festa
"In her reading of Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood, Maria Festa studies the unique ways in which the narrative of racism, Nazi camps, traumatic memory, and black consciosness meet the issues of historical imagination. Literature and traumatic fiction are here once again the source of a tenacious counter-memory." – Roberto Beneduce, Professor of Medical and Psychological Anthropology, University of Turin, and co-author of Frantz Fanon: Psychiatry and Politics
About the book:
This monograph examines Caryl Phillips’s The Nature of Blood (1997), a novel exploring recurring expressions of exclusion and discrimination throughout history with particular focus on Jewish and African Diasporas and the storytelling of its migrant characters. Particular attention is given to the analysis of characters revealing different facets of the Jewish question. Maria Festa also provides a historical excursus on the notion of race and considers another character alluding to Shakespeare’s Othello to expose the paradoxes of the relationship between subjugator and subjugated. The study makes the case that among the novel’s most remarkable achievements is Phillips’s effort to redress the absence of the Other from our history, that by depicting experiences of displacement, and by confronting readers with seemingly disconnected narrative fragments, The Nature of Blood is a reminder of the missing stories, the voices – marginalised and often racialized – that Western history has consistently failed to include in its accounts of the past and arguably its present.
About the author:
Maria Festa has an MA in Anglophone Postcolonial Literature from the Department of Foreign Languages, Literatures and Modern Cultures, University of Turin, Italy. She is contributor to and co-editor with Carmen Concilio of Word and Image in Literature and the Visual Arts (Mimesis International 2016). She has published articles on Anglophone cultures and literatures for the journals RiCognizioni, From the European South, Lectures du monde anglophone, CoSMo.
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