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Bill & Carlos : les Amériques de William Carlos Williams

Abstract : As the sailors of William Carlos Williams’ Great American Novel (1923) lay eyes upon the coast of America, they exclaim: “Nuevo Mundo!” The epiphany comes from a sensory point of view, which will be Williams’s approach to his continent and its history. In his Autobiography (1951), Williams depicts the language of this new land—his own­—as “barbarous,” thus playing on the original meaning of the term. He keeps questioning the ontological status of the stranger that he simultaneously is and is not. The everlasting quest for a poetry of the hic et nunc and a primeval autochthonous language leads to a new poetic appropriation of the mythological history of the continent. In his two novels, The Great American Novel (1923) and In the American Grain (1925), the poet travels across the continent back to the origins of the Americas as he keeps entwining the history of the United States with the past of Latin America, his mother’s land. Besides, the journey also leads him to a linguistic entwining: the use of Spanish words and phrases seems to activate a hermeneutic quest. Though this semantic encryption may appear at first as an obstacle to Williams’s claim for a democratic poetry, it will be interesting to see how Carlos sets the hermeneutic process into motion by questioning Bill. Only through poetry does the poet succeed in reconciling his two identities: Bill, the native from New Jersey and Carlos, whose motherland remains in Porto Rico.
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Anna Aublet. Bill & Carlos : les Amériques de William Carlos Williams. IdeAs : idées d'Amérique, Institut des Amériques (France), 2018. ⟨hal-01999367⟩

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