Reading Deuteronomic Vision in Literature
The novelistic genre acquires its full nobility through its dynamic capacity to overcome any canonical forms, incorporating intertexts that belong to other discursive fields. It is a genre with no real borders –its heterogeneous and rhizomic identity corroborates its rebellious and conquering feature. Decrying conformism and traditional mimetic sectarianism, that genre renews its borders by appropriating innovative narrative techniques, consisting of interweaving literary, mythical, cultural, and biblical values. By imbricating those intergeneric or interdiscursive figures, Paule Marshall’s fiction illustrates itself as a crucible of extratextual and complex resources. Through their combination, a poetics of heterogeneity emerges, thus generating a semantic shift, which ranges from spiritual trend to cultural one. The “Annual Excursion,” which is thematized in Praisesong for the Widow, offers a substantial and spiritual way out for a cultural reconnection and wholeness –black characters who are involved in that journey to the homeland, construct their cultural identity, connect themselves with their ancestors’ past, and restore their tarnished image. They also promise faithfulness to the “Old Parents.” In return, the latter undertakes to provide the “Out-Islanders” with spiritual and cultural protection to them. That metaphorical, spiritual covenant, which is anchored in the book of Deuteronomy, is far from being pointless or accidental, for it embodies both spiritual and cultural stakes, which the current study aims to scrutinize through the lens of the semiotics of culture. For that purpose, two points will be considered, namely “metaphorizing black ancestors’ requirements” and “the cultural scope of the spiritual covenant.