The Things Things Say
By Jonathan Lamb
(Princeton University Press , Hardcover, 9780691148069, 320pp.)
Publication Date: August 21, 2011
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Lamb emphasizes the subversive and even nonsensical quality of what things say; their interests are so radically different from ours that we either destroy or worship them. Existing outside systems of exchange and the priorities of civil society, things in fact advertise the dissident obscurity common to slave narratives all the way from Aesop and Phaedrus to Frederick Douglass and Primo Levi, a way of meaning only what is said, never saying what is meant. This is what Defoe's Roxana calls "the Sense of Things," and it is found in sounds, substances, and images rather than conventional signs.
This major work illuminates not only "it narratives," but also eighteenth-century literature, the rise of the novel, and the genealogy of the slave narrative.