Rhapsody in the dark

Tributes to Patrick Williams (1947–2021)
By Jean Jamin

Certain works of fiction are capable of transforming mindsets. That is the case, for example, of Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights, which presents a different vision of the Gypsy community, to whom one of the main characters belongs. These works can also have an ethnological significance. Like naturalist novels in general, they document contemporary social relations. More than that, however, they portray an imaginary variation on those relations, which then take on a new meaning. That is the case of L’Homme foudroyé by Blaise Cendrars, who was one of Patrick Williams’ favorite writers. The book’s four Gypsy Rhapsodies enabled Williams to question what he calls the “autobiographical illusion,” which can also be an ethnographic illusion.

  • Anthropology and literature
  • Bohemians
  • Gothic novels
  • Blaise Cendrars
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