Toni Morrison, V. S. Naipaul, and Ben Okri
Chapter Three - A little chasm filled: the transformation of history in V.S. Naipaul’s The Enigma of Arrival and A Way in the World 75
Chapter Three A little chasm filled: the transformation of history in V.S. Naipaul’s The Enigma of Arrival and A Way in the World ‘[I]t is only by means of the unending rectification of our configurations that we form the idea of the past as an inexhaustible resource’ (Paul Ricoeur, The Reality of the Historical Past, p.2). Drawing upon ‘the past as an inexhaustible resource’, Toni Morrison and V.S. Naipaul have established literary enterprises that continually rectify and re-interpret the past in a different light (Ricoeur, Reality, p.2). Though their purposes and strategies of tapping into this ‘inexhaustible resource’ may be different, Morrison and Naipaul have cast light on delicate sensibilities and hidden complexities of the hist- orical past. Looking back once again at Morrison’s historical mission in Beloved, this opening section will also introduce Paul Ricoeur’s The Reality of the Historical Past as the theoretical framework for this chapter, and forecast the broad scheme of discussing Naipaul’s transformation of history in the chosen novels. Morrison’s commitment to construct a literary archaeology demonstrates, on the one hand, that she has incorporated historical material into her fictional invention, and on the other hand, that her engagement with the past proposes to change it. Morrison has ex- pressed clearly her narrative intentions: ‘I can’t change the future but I can change the past’ (Taylor-Guthrie, p.xiii). The past, personal and historical, is a predominant concern in her creative imagination. Therefore, it would not be too much of an exaggeration to say that her...
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