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“The Grand Storyteller[s]”: Debt and Emancipation in Grace Paley’s “A Conversation with My Father”

Clément-Alexandre Ulff
p. 53-65

Résumé

Entre fiction et autobiographie, Grace Paley développe dans “A Conversation with My Father” une réflexion sur les tensions qui animent sa création artistique : entre tradition et subversion, entre dette et émancipation. Dans l’intimité d’un dialogue intergénérationnel cocasse mais poignant, la nouvelle aborde en un feuilleté des discours les enjeux et les écueils de la politique et de la littérature, de la justice et de la compassion. En résulte l’élaboration d’un art poétique érigeant l’autonomie et l’authenticité de l’artiste comme valeurs capitales.

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Studied authors :

Grace Paley

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Ce document sera publié en ligne en texte intégral en septembre 2017.

Aperçu du texte

One of Grace Paley’s most celebrated short stories, “A Conversation with My Father” (1974), relates a passionate argument between a dying father and his daughter about the art of storytelling. Though the tale deliberately strips the two characters to the status of pure “voices from who knows where” (238), it captures a convergence of ethical, political and aesthetic positions which are unmistakably Paley’s. Indeed the author claimed that the dialogue unfolding in the story was representative of many of the conversations which she had with her father: “It’s not that it happened, but that it could have happened. And parts of it did. It’s close to what happened. It really is the body of our running argument on art and the possibilities of life” (Interview Pool and Roses). The reader is thus presented with a conversation neither quite autobiographical nor altogether fictional between two unnamed voices, yet clearly identifiable as Paley’s and her father’s.

In this short, yet tightly cons...

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Référence papier

Clément-Alexandre Ulff, « “The Grand Storyteller[s]”: Debt and Emancipation in Grace Paley’s “A Conversation with My Father” », Journal of the Short Story in English, 65 | 2015, 53-65.

Référence électronique

Clément-Alexandre Ulff, « “The Grand Storyteller[s]”: Debt and Emancipation in Grace Paley’s “A Conversation with My Father” », Journal of the Short Story in English [En ligne], 65 | Autumn 2015, mis en ligne le 01 septembre 2017, consulté le 29 avril 2017. URL : http://jsse.revues.org/1637

Auteur

Clément-Alexandre Ulff

Clément-Alexandre Ulff teaches literature and English at the University of Rouen, France. He is writing his doctoral thesis on the links between history, myths, and fiction in Philip Roth’s novels. His main areas of interest include ethnicity as well as the construction of identity and memory in American literature.

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