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The Most Famous Person Nobody Knows

2254 words - 9 pages

The oscillating critical view of Walker, the periods of silence that interrupted the course of her literary production, the important social and literary movements that coincided with each of her publications, and the continuous change of life and literature during her lifetime necessitates a more inclusive and non-conventional approach of Walker’s work. Maryemma Graham argues that “Walker challenged both new critical and conventional readings; at the same time she offers penetrating intellectual critiques.” This very fact makes it difficult to approach Walker’s work using a specific critical framework. According to Graham, “Walker ruptures the critical categories such as “modernist,” “feminist,” or “nationalist” that we commonly engage. Those offering interpretations of Walker’s work often find they have to modify if not “invent” a framework for discussion” (xii). This is exactly what this thesis is up to: explore Walker’s work without being confined to conventional critical perspectives. Available criticism on Walker views her either as a writer of the south or a nationalist poet. Some critics focus only on the biblical aspect of her language and the Afro centric perspective of her work. They tend to call Walker a humanist, a visionary poet, or a folk poet. All these vague words do not give access to the real essence of Walker’s work; they only refer to aspects of her writing. William Scott comments that “Readers of Margaret Walker’s poetry and fiction have found it relatively easy to characterize (and occasionally dismiss) her work as simply the vehicle for a grand historical vision” (1083). Thus; there is a necessity to have a broader view of Walker’s literature to be able to link it to the mainstream canon of African American literature. This study is to fill a gap in available research on Walker, which helps later studies on her contemporaries or her influence on later generations of African American women writers. This study is to explore how Walker developed her thought from one work to another. It is to prove that Walker−though committed to her race−managed to comment on the American society as a whole. It is to show that a writer like Walker is a potential topic for a full length study, which is lacked so far because of critics’ inability to view Walker in broader terms of analysis. The purpose of this investigation of Walker’s work is based on the assumption that Walker was a writer conscious of her time and place. Because Walker grew and developed as a writer throughout the twentieth century, her work can best be viewed in its context. Born fifteen years after its beginning and dying two years before its end, Walker is qualified with the experience to speak about the twentieth century America. Walker witnessed main debates, conflicts, defeats, and victories; which give her voice credibility and authority. Accordingly, the twentieth century America can be taken as a background to view her literary works against....

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