By Alessandro Portelli

ISBN-10: 0231084986

ISBN-13: 9780231084987

ISBN-10: 0231504888

ISBN-13: 9780231504881

This evaluate of yankee literary heritage explores the ways that the interaction of written and oral kinds formed the principles of either nationwide literature and political identification. It examines various texts, written from colonial to trendy instances, contemplating how speech and writing have interaction.

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Additional resources for The Text and the Voice: writing, speaking, and democracy in American literature

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Here, orality and writing are viewed as distinct but coexistent socioling u istic registers, which share the tasks of communication according to goals and circumstances. Orality and writing are not assigned Houses of Dawn to separate mentalities or historical periods but interact within one global sphere of communication. 39 A written text, therefore, is not the supplementary transcription of a preexistent oral utterance, nor is oral discourse incomplete writing or the mere actualization of preexistent text.

23 Orality’s headless ghost, however, haunts not only the sources of writing but its results as well; it designates both repressed origins and present ambiguities and fears. ”24 Like revolution, democracy is another headless ghost: a state with no center, a society with no visible hierarchies or well-defined boundaries (“No sovereign, no court,” declares James), and an agglomeration of individuals with no tangible ties (“no personal loyalty,” says James) or stable identities. ”25 Flow and flux, air and light, designate democracy as an unlimited possibility of mobility and equality and as a frightening, undifferentiated magmatic conglomeration.

32 “Henceforth be masterless” is D. H. Lawrence’s version of the American imperative. “Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist,” Emerson enjoined. These proclamations of freedom take the ironic form of sharp, authoritarian commands. ”33 The new, masterless individuals must create the features of their own face; and when they look in the mirror, chances are they see nothing, or—like Laura Palmer’s father in David Lynch’s Twin Peaks—the face of a ghost. Or, perhaps, they disclose, behind their own mirrored image, the red “spectral image .

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The Text and the Voice: writing, speaking, and democracy in American literature by Alessandro Portelli


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