Caryl Phillips, Higher Ground

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Caryl Phillips’s third novel takes its name from a gospel song called “Higher Ground”, written by Johnson Oatman, Jr. in 1898. The lyrics of the song, a cry for physical and emotional strength, invoke a sense of community of all innocent victims exposed to violence beyond comprehension. In his review of the novel in

World Literature Today

, Charles Sarvan suggests that the stories that make up

Higher Ground

are “unified by [the] theme of individual lives damaged, if not destroyed by cruel, man-made waters” (518). Along the same line, Charles Johnson acknowledges Phillips’s cosmopolitan approach to the “exploration of oppression in both the public and private realms”, yet he also finds traces of “a young, committed writer’s urge to preach to us”. Barbara Smith…

2517 words

Citation: Stefanova, Svetlana. "Higher Ground". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 06 December 2016 [, accessed 22 April 2024.]

4752 Higher Ground 3 Historical context notes are intended to give basic and preliminary information on a topic. In some cases they will be expanded into longer entries as the Literary Encyclopedia evolves.

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