Advertisement

Other Families: Dryden’s Theory of Congeniality in Dante, Chaucer, and Naylor

  • Matthew X. Vernon
Chapter
Part of the The New Middle Ages book series (TNMA)

Abstract

This chapter moves to consider more abstract questions of inheritance, by examining how an African-American writer can position her own work in relationship to a larger literary tradition, derived from the Middle Ages. It focuses on Gloria Naylor’s use of Dante and Chaucer in her sequential novels Linden Hills and Bailey’s Café. Naylor encountered both of these authors in a college “Great Literature” course and struggled with treating them as her literary antecedents. Their position within the literary canon and the lineage of texts that followed them seemed to chart a trajectory that would not incorporate her authorial voice. The rewriting of these texts, Vernon argues, is Naylor’s way of reading them not as “classics” to which she is beholden and which would prescribe the sorts of engagement she could have with them.

Works Cited

Primary Sources

  1. Alighieri, Dante. Inferno. Translated by Allen Mandelbaum. New York: Bantam Classics, 1982.Google Scholar
  2. ———. De Vulgari Eloquentia. Edited and translated by Steven Botterill. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005.Google Scholar
  3. Arnold, Matthew. The Complete Prose Works of Matthew Arnold: Vol. IX. Edited by Robert Henry Super. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1973.Google Scholar
  4. Beatty, Paul. The Sellout. New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2015.Google Scholar
  5. Chaucer, Geoffrey. The Works of Our Ancient and Learned English Poet, Geoffrey Chaucer. Edited and translated by Thomas Speght. London: Adam Islip, 1601. Accessed January 26, 2017. http://gateway.proquest.com/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&res_id=xri:eebo&rft_id=xri:eebo:image:7609:5/.
  6. ———. The Riverside Chaucer. 3rd edition. Edited by Larry Benson, et al. Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1987.Google Scholar
  7. Dryden, John. “Preface to the Fables.” In Essays of Dryden, vol. 2, ed. W.P. Ker. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1900.Google Scholar
  8. ———. The Poems and Fables of John Dryden. Edited by James Kinsley. London: Oxford University Press, 1962.Google Scholar
  9. ———. The Works of John Dryden, vol. VI–VII. Edited by Vinton A. Dearing. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  10. Hughes, Langston, and Zora Neale Hurston. Mule Bone: A Comedy of Negro Life. Edited by George Houston Bass and Henry Louis Gates, Jr. New York: Harper Perennial, 1991.Google Scholar
  11. Johnson, Samuel. The Lives of the Poets. Edited by Roger Lonsdale. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 2006).Google Scholar
  12. Naylor, Gloria. Linden Hills. New York: Penguin Books, 1986.Google Scholar
  13. ———. Bailey’s Café. New York: Vintage Books, 1993a.Google Scholar
  14. ———. Mama Day. New York: Vintage Books, 1993b.Google Scholar
  15. ———. Conversations with Gloria Naylor. Edited by Maxine Lavon Montgomery. Jackson: University of Mississippi Press, 2004.Google Scholar
  16. Randel, Don Michael. The Harvard Dictionary of Music. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2003.Google Scholar

Secondary Sources

  1. Anderson, Benedict. Imagined Communities: Reflections on the Origin and Spread of Nationalism. New York: Verso, 2006.Google Scholar
  2. Andreas, James R. “Signifyin’ on The Tempest in Mama Day.” In Shakespeare and Appropriation, eds. Christy Desmet and Robert Sawyer. New York: Routledge, 1999, 103–118.Google Scholar
  3. Awkward, Micheal. Anxiety of Influence: Inspiring Influences: Tradition, Revision and Afro-American Women’s Novels. New York: Columbia University Press, 1989.Google Scholar
  4. Baker, Houston, Jr. Blues, Ideology and Afro-American Literature. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  5. Butler, Robert. “Dante’s Inferno and Ralph Ellison’s Invisible Man: A Study in Literary Continuity.” In The Critical Response to Ralph Ellison. Westport: Greenwood Press, 2000, 95–105.Google Scholar
  6. “Black Women Novelists: New Generation Raises Provocative Issues.” Ebony 40.1 (November 1984), 59–64.Google Scholar
  7. Cornish, Alison. Vernacular Translation in Dante’s England: Illiterate Literature. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2000.Google Scholar
  8. Dawahare, Anthony. “Langston Hughes’s Radical Poetry and the ‘End of Race’.” Melus 23.3 (1998), 21–41.Google Scholar
  9. Edwards, Robert R. “The Metropol and the Mayster-Toun: Cosmopolitanism in Late Medieval Literature.” In Cosmopolitan Geographies: New Locations in Literature and Culture, ed. Vinay Dharwadker. New York: Routledge, 2001, 33–63.Google Scholar
  10. Ellison, Ralph. “The Little Man at the Chehaw Station: The American Artist and his Audience.” The American Scholar (Winter 1977), 25–48.Google Scholar
  11. ———. Invisible Man. New York: Vintage International, 1995.Google Scholar
  12. Engles, Tim. “African American Whiteness in Gloria Naylor’s Linden Hills.” African American Review 43.4 (Winter 2009), 661–679.Google Scholar
  13. Erickson, Peter. Rewriting Shakespeare, Rewriting Ourselves. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1991.Google Scholar
  14. Fry, Paul. The Reach of Criticism: Method and Perception in Literary Theory. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1983.Google Scholar
  15. Gates, Henry Louis, Jr. “What’s Love Got to Do with It: Critical Theory, Integrity and the Black Idiom.” New Literary History 18.2 (Winter 1987), 345–362.Google Scholar
  16. ———. “Canon Confidential: A Sam Slade Caper.” In Loose Canons: Notes on the Culture Wars. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992, 3–16.Google Scholar
  17. Gilroy, Paul. The Black Atlantic: Modernity and Double Consciousness. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1993.Google Scholar
  18. Guillory, John. Cultural Capital: The Problem of Literary Canon Formation. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995.Google Scholar
  19. Hartman, Andrew. A War for the Soul of America. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  20. Howard, Robert Glenn. “The Transformative Potential of Discourse in the Vernacular Mode.” In Public Modalities: Rhetoric, Culture, Media and the Shape of Public Life, eds. Daniel C. Brouwer and Robert Asen. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2010, 256.Google Scholar
  21. Hughes, Langston. “Poems Written in Soviet Uzbekistan, 1932–33: From the 1934 Uzbek Translation of S.[anjar] Siddiq.” Edited by Davis Chioni Moore, translated by Kevin Young and Muhabbat Bakaeva. Callaloo 25.4 (2002), 1100–1113.Google Scholar
  22. Ingham, Patricia Claire. The Medieval New: Ambivalence in the Age of Innovation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2015.Google Scholar
  23. Joyce, Joyce A. “The Black Canon: Reconstructing Black American Literary Criticism.” New Literary History 18.2 (Winter 1987), 335–344.Google Scholar
  24. Kutzinski, Vera M. The Worlds of Langston Hughes: Modernism and Translation in the Americas. Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  25. Lee, A. Robert. “‘Ask Your Mama’ Langston Hughes, the Blues and Recent Afro-American Literary Studies.” Journal of American Studies 24.2 (1990), 199–209.Google Scholar
  26. Machan, Tim William. “Speght’s ‘Works’ and the Invention of Chaucer.” Text 8 (1995), 145–170.Google Scholar
  27. Minnis, Alastair. Valuing the Vernacular. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012.Google Scholar
  28. Moglen, Seth. “Modernism in the Black Diaspora: Langston Hughes and the Broken Cubes of Picasso.” Callaloo 25.4 (2002), 1189–1205.Google Scholar
  29. Moore, David Chioni. “Colored Dispatches from the Uzbek Border: Langston Hughes’ Relevance, 1933–2002.” Callallo 25.4 (2002), 1115–1135.Google Scholar
  30. Pollock, Sheldon. “Cosmopolitan and Vernacular in History.” Public Culture 12.3 (2000), 591–625.Google Scholar
  31. Prendergast, Thomas A. “Writing, Authenticity, and the Fabrication of the Chaucerian Text.” In Rewriting Chaucer: Culture, Authority, and the Idea of the Authentic Text, 1400–1602, eds. Thomas A. Prendergast and Barbara Kline. Columbus: Ohio University Press, 1999, 1–12.Google Scholar
  32. Reverand, Cedric D., II. Dryden’s Final Poetic Mode. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 1988).Google Scholar
  33. Scanlon, Larry. “News From Heaven: Vernacular Time in Langston Hughes’ Ask Your Mama.” In The Vulgar Tongue: Medieval and Postmedieval Vernacularity, eds. Fiona Somerset and Nicholas Watson. University Park: Penn State University Press, 2003.Google Scholar
  34. Spillers, Hortense J. “Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book.” Diacritics 17.2 (Summer 1987), 65–81.Google Scholar
  35. Spillers, Hortense, et al. “Whatcha Gonna Do?—Revisiting Mama’s Baby, Papa’s Maybe: An American Grammar Book: A Conversation with Hortense Spillers, Saidiya Hartman, Farah Jasmine Griffin, Shelly Eversley, and Jennifer L. Morgan.” Women’s Studies Quarterly 35 (Spring–Summer 2007), 299–308.Google Scholar
  36. Steinberg, Justin. Dante and the Limits of the Law. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.Google Scholar
  37. Traub, Valerie. “Rainbows of Darkness: Deconstructing Shakespeare in the Works of Zora Neale Hurston and Gloria Naylor.” In Cross-Cultural Performances: Differences in Women’s Re-Visions of Shakespeare, ed. Marianne Novy. University of Illinois Press, 1993, 150–164.Google Scholar
  38. Trigg, Stephanie. Congenial Souls: Reading Chaucer from Medieval to Postmodern. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2002.Google Scholar
  39. Watts, Jerry Gafio. Amiri Baraka: The Politics and Art of a Black Intellectual. New York: New York University Press, 2001.Google Scholar
  40. Whitt, Margaret Early. Understanding Gloria Naylor. Columbia: University of South Carolina Press, 1999.Google Scholar
  41. Wright, Richard. “Blueprint for Negro Writing.” In African American Literary Theory: A Reader, ed. Winston Napier. New York: New York University Press, 2000, 45–53.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Matthew X. Vernon
    • 1
  1. 1.University of California, DavisDavisUSA

Personalised recommendations