Stories of Survival
Stories of Survival. John Edgar Wideman's Representations of History
ISBN 978-3-86821-291-4, 212 S., kt., € 25,00 (2011)
(Mosaic - Studien und Texte zur amerikanischen Kultur und Geschichte, Bd. 42)
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.
Buchvorschau / Inhaltsverzeichnis (pdf)
"Eschborn is to be particularly commended for writing in a lucid and jargon-free style in a work that is not only a good read for experts but also for beginners in African American literary studies. This clarity, together with Eschborn's annotation-style contextualization of the texts he discusses, makes this a book you can gladly put into the hands of any undergraduate who wants to know about Wideman, and this is a quality that can hardly be appreciated enough in academic writing."
Sascha Pöhlmann, Anglistik – International Journal of English Studies 24.1 (2013)
"The true measure of Eschborn's achievement is the author he has chosen to tackle. Wideman's literary work rests on an intricate combination of several complex components. Eschborn's ability to master all these challenging components and incorporate them into a convincing study of a key theme in Wideman's oeuvre has resulted in the first book that covers virtually every facet of Wideman's narrative technique and epistemological agenda. As a volume that also deals with much broader issues, Eschborn's Stories of Survival deserves to be read not only by African Americanists but by anybody interested in configurations of history in contemporary culture. For specialists on Wideman, this monograph is nothing less than a must-read, a text to be consulted and quoted for decades to come."
Klaus H. Schmidt, Amerikastudien / American Studies 58.1 (2013)