MOSAIC - Studien und Texte zur amerikanischen Kultur und Geschichte, Band 42

Ulrich Eschborn

Stories of Survival

John Edgar Wideman's Representations of History

Rezension "Stories of Survival": Anglistik – International Journal of English Studies 24.1 (March 2013), pp. 208-211.


This is the first detailed study of the crucial aspect of history in John Edgar Wideman’s literary work. Wideman, who grew up in a poor family in Homewood and Shadyside, Pittsburgh, had a remarkable career as a college basketball star, was the second black Rhodes Scholar after Alain Locke, and is the first two-time winner of the PEN/Faulkner Award. Stories of Survival is based on an understanding of history as a “collective enterprise of the mind” (Wideman) and draws upon extended conversations with the author about history in his work. It examines his representations of history as “a record of survival” in The Lynchers, the Homewood Trilogy, Philadelphia Fire, the story “Fever,” and the historical novel The Cattle Killing and explains the important artistic transition of Wideman’s work from the early novels to the Homewood Trilogy. Stories of Survival analyzes the cultural means such as storytelling, music, and religion by which marginalized African Americans, mainly in the urban settings of Pittsburgh and Philadelphia, struggle for survival in Wideman’s narratives. Drawing upon African, African-American, European, and European-American cultural elements in Wideman’s writing, Stories of Survival illustrates the ways in which the author blends concepts of survival, resistance, “Great Time,” place, individual, family, community, storytelling, and African-American English and thus creates his own specific literary approach to history that is unique in American literature.


ISBN 978-3-86821-291-4, 212 S., kt., € 25,00 (2011)


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