Elements of Postmodernism in Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo, Don Delillo's White Noise, Toni Morrison's Beloved and Thomas Pynchon's the Crying of Lot 49

6348 WordsJun 20, 201326 Pages
Introduction Postmodernism as a term and a philosophy represents a wide range of various concepts and ideas. Perhaps the central achievement of postmodernism is the "consideration of difference," an insistent attention to the local cultures and undervalued constituencies that modernism's exaltation of unity and grand narrative often obscured, which can easily be observed by reading and analyzing some of the most important works of American postmodern fiction. Works such as Ishmael Reed's Mumbo Jumbo, Don DeLillo's White Noise, Toni Morrison's Beloved and Thomas Pynchon's The Crying of Lot 49 are only a few of many which contain all or some of postmodernism's most distinguishable elements. Throught these four novels one…show more content…
Also, Nietzsche’s emphasis on the body and dance is in perfect accord with Reed’s approach in Mumbo Jumbo. The entire idea revolves around freedom, freedom of thought, of body, of language, of heart and spirit, which defies the constraints and norms of the society. As every postmodernist writer, Reed steps outside the boundaries of the traditional narrative. Blurring the lines between historical facts and fiction, reality and fantasy, as one of the prominent characteristic of postmodern narrative, is omnipresent in Mumbo Jumbo. The United States occupation of Haiti, attempts by whites to suppress jazz music, and the widespread belief that the United States president Warren Harding had black ancestry are mingled with a plot in which the novel's hero, an elderly Harlem Voodoo priest named PaPa LaBas, searches for a mysterious book that has disappeared with black militant Abdul Sufi Hamid. Reed uses a series of fictional, non-fictional, and thinly-veiled real characters. He distorts historical facts by placing them in a fictional narrative. He turns mythology and history around to serve his own purpose, that of a third-world, anti-oppression, and pro-soul perspective on history. Mumbo Jumbo is underground history—in two ways. First, it is underground, i.e., non-official in the sense that a Marxist would write history: from the viewpoint of the oppressed rather than the oppressor. Reed, in contrast, writes an underground history in a

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