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The CLR James Journal

Volume 24, Issue 1/2, Fall 2018

Shawn Gonzalez
Pages 89-105

Counter-Novels
Sylvia Wynter’s Fictional and Theoretical Disenchantment of the Novel Form

While Sylvia Wynter emphasizes the written word’s capacity to transform our systems of organizing knowledge, she repeatedly questions the extent to which novels can have this transformative capacity. Both her theoretical writing and the plot of her 1962 novel The Hills of Hebron emphasize the novel’s limitations. However, Wynter does not totally reject the form. Instead, she reimagines the novel through the idea of the “counter-novel,” developed in conjunction with her close reading of Ralph Ellison’s The Invisible Man. This essay considers The Hills of Hebron as a counter-novel by analyzing the connections between novel’s two artist characters, The Hills of Hebron, and Wynter’s reading of The Invisible Man. Through this analysis, I argue that Wynter’s novel can be read as a substantial contribution to her theoretical corpus that has continued relevance to her challenge to transform dominant systems of knowledge production.

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