‘Life as literature’: Wright Morris's Love Among the Cannibals

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To become oneself, one must gain ownership of one’s language and authorship of the stories one tells. The partisans of vitalism, and the prophets of a new American literature, both claim that the way to own one's language is to seek out new experiences that have not yet been put into language and put them into a language of one’s own. Morris's alternative, set out in his critical writings but most fully exemplified in his 1957 novel Love Among the Cannibals, is to appropriate what has already been written as literature in order to overcome the domination of cliché, what ‘everyone’ or ‘every American’ says and therefore thinks and does, over one's language, imagination, and experiences. Wright Morris is urgent for us if we are to escape faddish memes and cannibalise our memories and our reading to nourish our own imaginations, without which we cannot read or write ourselves into a better or more just future.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)357-372
Number of pages16
JournalTextual Practice
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2023


  • Bergson
  • Cliché
  • D. H. Lawrence
  • music and literature
  • vitalism

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Literature and Literary Theory


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