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

By Alessandro Portelli

This evaluation of yank literary background explores the ways that the interaction of written and oral types formed the rules of either nationwide literature and political id. It examines a number of texts, written from colonial to fashionable occasions, contemplating how speech and writing have interaction.

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Or, perhaps, they disclose, behind their own mirrored image, the red “spectral image . . 34 Democracy is a ghost threatened by ghosts; it has not buried the ghosts of the revolution behind it and is already haunted by the red masks of revolutions to come. 37 38 F O U N DAT I O N : T H E VO I C E B E N E AT H T H E T E X T THE THE THE AND A N C E S T O R , T H E S L AV E , A N D I N D I A N : “ B E N I T O C E R E N O,” ALGERINE CAPTIVE, “THE DEVIL T O M WA L K E R ” Between Independence and the Civil War, revolutionary or dubious origins and contemporary revolutionary stirrings are often connected in American literature.

In the age of the printing press, ordinary and instrumental writings stabilize and objectify language, and literature takes on a more specialized meaning, designating all writing that goes against the resistance of the text to become fluid, pliable, dynamic, and interactive. Written literature, then, achieves at great effort what orality has been doing all along, naturally and spontaneously but also under the inescapable coercion of its physical form. 71 C H A P T E R T WO F O U N DAT I O N S : O R A L I T Y, O R I G I N S, A N D T H E D E M O C R AT I C R E VO L U T I O N Beneath the cement foundations of the motel, the ancient spirits of the people conspire sacred tricks They tell stories and jokes and laugh and laugh The American passersby .

An oral storyteller in an absolute monarchical state, Scheherazade Foundations: Orality, Origins speaks in order to keep her head from being cut off; in contrast, Hawthorne’s writing is set in motion precisely by his democratically decapitated condition. Scheherazade’s interactive orality heals a temporary aberration and restores sanity to an organic state; Hawthorne’s deferred writing is a response to the elusiveness of power and the precariousness of identity in an incipient mass society. In an earlier story, “My Kinsman, Major Molineux,” Hawthorne describes how young Robin encounters “the spectre of his kinsman,” the last representative of an authority swept away by the crowd, and confronts the faceless red and black mask of the new age.

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