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Rediscovering the sound of the voice in Caribbean fiction: The example of Robert Antoni's Divina Trace

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This article examines the way in which the use of effects of orality in fiction by Caribbean novelists makes possible a re-examination of the assumptions underlying the use of voice in fiction. By looking at definitions of voice proposed by twentieth-century critics and exploring the ambiguity that underlies the metonymic extension of the term to designate the voice that is 'heard' in a written text, we attempt to show that there are two facets of voice, one of which is related to sound and to the body, the other to the notion of space and to the position of the speaking subject. A reflection on the conventions of oral storytelling reveals the distance between these two poles of voice, a distance which has been masked by the conventions of written narrative and has led to a certain confusion in the use of the term. The novel Divina Trace by Robert Antoni is used as an example of the way in which a writer's desire to imitate orality allows us to understand the functioning of voices in fiction. Antoni's novel creates a complex relation between the sound of voices and their positioning in the narrative structure. Antoni explores the process through which oral communication gives birth to stories in the Caribbean, thus offering an interesting perspective not only on the culture of the Caribbean, but also on the very nature of voice and its relation to storytelling.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: March 1, 2008

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