mercredi 1 septembre 2010

John Updike, THE COMPLETE HENRY BECH, New York, Everyman's Library, 2001 [1970] [1982] [1998] [1999]

The audience at Cape Coast grew restive during Bech's long adress on "The Cultural Situation on the American Writer," and afterward several members of the audience, dressed in the colorful robes of spokesmen, leaped to their feet and asked combative questions. "Why," asked a small bespectacled man, his voice tremulous and orotund over the microphone, "has the gentleman speaking in representation of the United States not mentioned any black writers? Does he suppose, may I ask, that the situation of the black writers in his country partakes of the decadent, and, may I say, ininteresting situation he has described?"
"Well," Bech began, "I think, yes, the American Negro has his share of our decadence, though maybe not a full share - "
"We have heard all this before," the man was going on, robed like a wizard, his lilting African English boomed by the amplifying system, "of your glorious Melville and Whitman, of their Moby-Dicks and their Scarlet Letters - what of Elridge Cleaver and Richard Wright, what of Langston Hughes and Rufus Magee? Why have you not read to us pretty posies of their words? We beg you, Mr. Henry Bech, tell us what you mean by this phrase" - a scornful pause - " 'American writer.' "
(BECH IS BACK, " Bech Thirld-Worlds It", p. 180)

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