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Flight as improvisational solo in jazz and blues fiction

Black Caribbean Literature (BCL)
Kosse,Jeffrey P. (Author)
Publication Date:
Lincoln, Nebraska: The University of Nebraska
African American Research Center, Library, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject Term:
Caribbean area, Barbados, Blacks, Literature, African Americans, Morrison, Toni, Caribbean people, performance, Music, Marshall, Paule, Baldwin, James, Improvisation, Ellison, Ralph, jazz and blues
204 p., This dissertation examines the roles played by jazz and blues in African American fiction of the post-World War II era. The author contends that scholars of jazz and blues fiction generally discuss the authors' treatment of the music in terms of how it shows up, is alluded to, or is played; however, few address performative elements that are central to much African American literature. Their performances, whether as narratives or geosocial movements, often draw upon forms of flight as defining actions that send them into new territories and necessitate acts of improvisation. Forms of flight manifest themselves as improvised solos in numerous ways, including in this dissertation the path of Ellison's narrator going north and ultimately underground in Invisible Man , brothers leaving their Harlem pasts and coming together while on ever-divergent paths in James Baldwin's "Sonny's Blues," Milkman Dead discovering the secret of literal flight by improvising through a journey to his familial past in Toni Morrison's Song of Solomon , or the members of Macon Street's "flesh-and-blood triangle" choosing the expatriate route of Paris instead of America in Paule Marshall's The Fisher King.