Voice Recognition - Orality in "Wide Sargasso Sea" Book Review by smb490

Voice Recognition - Orality in "Wide Sargasso Sea"
Analysis of Jean Rhys's novel "Wide Sargasso Sea" through the lens of language usage in the novel, concentrating on orality and polyglossia in the West Indies as the foundations of language kinship.
# 119687 | 5,470 words | 29 sources | MLA | 2007 | US

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This paper examines Jean Rhys's novel "Wide Sargasso Sea," which is written as a prequel to and alternative interpretation of Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre." The paper explains that Rhys illuminates the history of Bertha Rochester, nee Antoinette Cosway Mason, giving Bronte's silent Creole woman a narrative voice. The paper points out that Antoinette's use of polyglossia to build kinship throughout the novel and Rhys's emphasis on oral tradition and performative speech acts suggest that both author and protagonist claim a West Indian identity for themselves by internalizing these speech patterns. By examining these language patterns in the novel, the paper seeks to demonstrate that Rhys not only privileges the West Indian tradition of orality in her work, but that she also renders a uniquely West Indian voice for her protagonist by exploring the liminality of White Creole identity.

From the Paper:

"What is striking about this title, however, is the categorization of Rhys as an English novelist, referring not to the language but to the country. Born in Dominica to a third-generation Creole mother and a Welsh father, Rhys is Caribbean or West Indian by heritage (O'Connor 8-10). It is only the time she spent in Europe after the age of sixteen that qualifies her as an English novelist, and even this period in her life is recorded as being turbulent and harrowing for Rhys in numerous memoirs and interviews. It is because of the fact that Rhys spent most of her life as a novelist on the wrong side of the Sargasso Sea that there exists a vehement discourse regarding Rhys's cultural sympathies and whether or not she should be considered a West Indian writer. Kamau Brathwaite is often noted for his rejection of Rhys from the West Indian canon of writers, suggesting that
"White Creoles in the English and French West Indies have separated themselves by too wide a gulf and have contributed too little culturally, as a group, to give credence to the notion that they can [...] meaningfully identify, or be identified, with the spiritual world on this side of the Sargasso Sea. (38)"

Sample of Sources Used:

  • Allsopp, Richard, ed. The Dictionary of Caribbean English Usage. New York: Oxford University Press, 1996.
  • Alvarez, A. "The Best Living English Novelist." New York Times. 17 March, 1974: BR353.
  • Andre, Irving W. Distant Voices: The Genesis of An Indigenous Literature in Dominica. Roseau: Ponde Casse Press, 1995.
  • Bender, Todd K. "Jean Rhys and the Genius of Impressionism." Frickley 75-84.
  • Brathwaite, Kamau. Contradictory Omens: Cultural Diversity and Integration in the Caribbean. Mona, Jamaica : Savacou Publications, 1974.

Cite this Book Review:

APA Format

Voice Recognition - Orality in "Wide Sargasso Sea" (2010, May 18) Retrieved December 04, 2023, from https://www.academon.com/book-review/voice-recognition-orality-in-wide-sargasso-sea-119687/

MLA Format

"Voice Recognition - Orality in "Wide Sargasso Sea"" 18 May 2010. Web. 04 December. 2023. <https://www.academon.com/book-review/voice-recognition-orality-in-wide-sargasso-sea-119687/>