The Plight of Not Belonging: Jean Rhys’s “Let Them Call It Jazz” and “The Day They Burned the Books”
This paper offers an analysis of the short stories “Let Them Call It Jazz” (1962) and “The Day They Burned the Books” (1960), set in London and in the Caribbean respectively, with the aim to demonstrate that, no matter their origin, Rhys’s protagonists are often confronted with a feeling of non-belonging that sometimes makes them fluid, unstable beings. Furthermore, it aims to demonstrate that, although in some of her writings Rhys seemed to be very critical of the attitude of the colonizers and to align herself with the colonized Others instead, her attitude towards the empire can also be very ambivalent at some points. Ultimately, the analysis of these two short stories suggests that the ambivalence present in Rhys’s works could be a direct consequence of her peculiar positioning as somebody in between two different cultures, and, consequently, uncovers to what extent the process of colonization affected those involved in it.
Bhabha, Homi. “The World and the Home.” Third World and Post-
Colonial Issues, vols. 31‒32, 1992, pp. 141‒53.
Bouson, J. Brooks. “Speaking the Unspeakable: Shame, Trauma and Morrison’s Fiction.” Quiet As It’s Kept: Shame, Trauma, and Race in the Novels of Toni Morrison, edited by J. Brooks Bouson, State U of New York P, 2000, pp. 1‒21.
Brown, Laura S. “Not Outside the Range: One Feminist Perspective on Psychic Trauma.” American Imago, vol. 48, no. 1, 1991, pp. 119‒33.
Burrows, Victoria. Whiteness and Trauma: The Mother-Daughter Knot in the Fiction of Jean Rhys, Jamaica Kincaid and Toni Morrison. Palgrave McMillan, 2004.
Carr, Helen. Jean Rhys. Northcote House, 1996.
Fanon, Frantz. Black Skin, White Masks. 1952. Pluto, 2008.
Hall, Stuart. “The Spectacle of the ‘Other’.” Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, edited by Stuart Hall, Open U, 1997, pp. 223‒80.
Hooks, Bell. Feminist Theory: From Margin to Center. Routledge, 2015.
Johannessen, Lene M. “Palimpsest and Hybridity in Postcolonial Writing.” The Cambridge History of Postcolonial Literature, vol. 2, edited by Ato Quayson, Cambridge UP, 2012, pp. 869‒902.
Lacan, Jacques. “The Line and Light.” The Four Fundamental Concepts of Psychoanalysis, 1963‒1964. 1973. Translated by Alan Sheridan, W. W. Norton, 1998, pp. 91‒104.
LaCapra, Dominick. Representing the Holocaust: History, Theory, Trauma. Cornell UP, 1996.
LaCapra, Dominick. “Trauma, Absence, Loss.” Critical Inquiry, vol. 25, no. 4, 1998, pp. 696‒727.
Maurel, Sylvie. Jean Rhys. Macmillan, 1998.
McDermott, Rachel Fell, and Jeffrey John Kripal. Encountering Kali: In the Margins, at the Center, in the West. U of California P, 2003.
Rhys, Jean. Tigers Are Better-Looking, with a Selection from the Left Bank. Penguin, 1972.
Root, Maria P. “Reconstructing the Impact of Trauma on Personality.”
Personality and Psychopathology: Feminist Reappraisals, edited by
Laura S. Brown and Mary Ballou, Guilford, 1992, pp. 229‒
Savory, Elaine. The Cambridge Introduction to Jean Rhys. Cambridge UP, 2009.
Tiffin, Helen. “Rite of Reply: The Shorter Fictions of Jean Rhys.” Re-sitting the Queen’s English: Text and Tradition in Post-Colonial Literatures, edited by Gillian Whitlock and Helen Tiffin, Rodopi, 1992, pp. 67‒78.
Weedon, Chris. Identity and Culture: Narratives of Difference and Belonging. Open UP, 2004.
Wordsworth, William. Poems, in Two Volumes. 1807. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.
Copyright (c) 2018 Carmen Laguarta Bueno
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Authors retain publishing rights and grant ES Review. Spanish Journal of English Studies right of first publication.
Simultaneously, all articles and reviews published in ES Review will be available under a Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial (CC-BY-NC) license, by which others are allowed to share and use their work with an acknowledgement of the work’s authorship and initial publication in this journal.
In addition, ES Review allows authors to arrange additional contracts for the non-exclusive publication of the journal’s published version of the work (e.g., in a book), with an acknowledgement of its initial publication in this journal. In such a case, authors are required to approach the editor(s)/publisher to request permission.