Oedipus Rebound: Rita Dove's <i>The Darker Face of the Earth</i>

Barbara Goff and Michael Simpson

in Crossroads in the Black Aegean

Published in print December 2007 | ISBN: 9780199217182
Published online January 2008 | e-ISBN: 9780191712388 | DOI:

Series: Classical Presences

Oedipus Rebound: Rita Dove's The Darker Face of the Earth

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Rita Dove's The Darker Face of the Earth examines the process of building ‘America’ out of partly African materials. Incest becomes a sign for the forced amalgamation of cultures that characterized plantation slavery, and the oedipal tropes of knowledge, parentage, desire, and narrative are made newly relevant by the particular racialized history of the United States. The politics of the Greek drama, whereby the hero is pitted against the community, are also interrogated by the various choices made by figures such as Augustus, the chorus and the conspirators. The issue of oedipally competing traditions is scrutinised via African-American tropes such as Esu, the talking book, and the tragic mulatto/a. Also examined is the cultural position of the dramatist herself, as a black woman writer and a member of the generation immediately after the Black Arts Movement.

Keywords: Rita Dove; The Darker Face of the Earth; incest; plantation slavery; knowledge; parentage; Esu; talking book; tragic mulatto/a; Black Arts Movement

Chapter.  20636 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Classical Literature

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