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“I’d sing you a song if I could sing”: Art and Artifice in Ellen Douglas’s Can’t Quit You, Baby

“I’d sing you a song if I could sing”: Art and Artifice in Ellen Douglas’s Can’t Quit... J aydn deWald “i’ d sing you a song if i could sing” Art and Artifi ce in Ellen Douglas’s Can’t Quit You, Baby Ah, well, I didn’t say it was possible. I said, Try. —Ellen Douglas, Can’t Quit You, Baby Just as Douglas exposes the Ellen Douglas’s Can’t Quit You, Baby (1988) is a artifi ce of the prismatic and profoundly subtle novel. And yet, despite its impressive mélange of competing novel in order voices and points of view, strategies and tech- to make a more niques, styles and modes—all of which forced readers to approach the narrative from a variety authentic text, of angles—the novel’s prose and central action so the tale-teller quietly belie its ambition. Ostensibly Can’t , Quit You, Baby is about the fraught, long-time rela- interrogates her tionship of a white mistress, Cornelia, and her own telling in African American housekeeper, Julia (nicknamed Tweet), in Civil Rights-era Mississippi. But the order to make novel is in fact as much about the narrator’s— more authentic, the “tale-teller’s”—struggle to tell a tale that can transcend racial barriers (or is at least capable of more nuanced, and it) and at last bring these two women together more http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

“I’d sing you a song if I could sing”: Art and Artifice in Ellen Douglas’s Can’t Quit You, Baby

The Southern Literary Journal , Volume 49 (1) – Jun 15, 2017

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2008 the Southern Literary Journal and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Department of English.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

J aydn deWald “i’ d sing you a song if i could sing” Art and Artifi ce in Ellen Douglas’s Can’t Quit You, Baby Ah, well, I didn’t say it was possible. I said, Try. —Ellen Douglas, Can’t Quit You, Baby Just as Douglas exposes the Ellen Douglas’s Can’t Quit You, Baby (1988) is a artifi ce of the prismatic and profoundly subtle novel. And yet, despite its impressive mélange of competing novel in order voices and points of view, strategies and tech- to make a more niques, styles and modes—all of which forced readers to approach the narrative from a variety authentic text, of angles—the novel’s prose and central action so the tale-teller quietly belie its ambition. Ostensibly Can’t , Quit You, Baby is about the fraught, long-time rela- interrogates her tionship of a white mistress, Cornelia, and her own telling in African American housekeeper, Julia (nicknamed Tweet), in Civil Rights-era Mississippi. But the order to make novel is in fact as much about the narrator’s— more authentic, the “tale-teller’s”—struggle to tell a tale that can transcend racial barriers (or is at least capable of more nuanced, and it) and at last bring these two women together more

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Jun 15, 2017

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