Full-text resources of CEJSH and other databases are now available in the new Library of Science.
Visit https://bibliotekanauki.pl


2013 | 56/111 z. 1 | 25-38

Article title

„I Have Known Rivers”: Traumatic Memory and the Postcolonial Kunstlerroman: A Reading of Paule Marshall’s Triangular Road



Title variants

Languages of publication



The kunstlerroman or „artist novel” unlike the related bildungsroman (novel of growth and development) has not received wide critical attention. Yet it may be interesting in the study of the novel to engage with sub-genres such as the kunstlerroman, especially since it traces the development of the artist, his/her arts and perspective. This paper is interested in exploring the kunstlerroman from a postcolonial viewpoint. Specifically, this paper focuses on how a memory of traumatic events and experiences contribute in the development of Paule Marshall’s artistic skill as expressed in her novel Triangular Road. It therefore engages with issues such as the place of individual and collective traumatic memory, the question of apprenticeship and how it is played out in the postcolonial variant of the kunsttlerroman. It is also focused on how different the postcolonial kunstlerroman is different from the European version and what explains this difference. The main argument is that Marshall’s Triangular Road is a postcolonial kunstlerroman which traces her growth and development to artistic maturity, guided by her apprenticeship and against a backdrop of intrusive memories of the traumas and pains of her people. Therefore it insists that the postcolonial artist unlike those of the colonizing countries is largely influenced and formed by a series of traumatic events whose memories are triggered by „trauma buttons” and which push them in the present to pick up their pens. It underlines the fact that there is a close relationship between trauma, memory and the artistic development of Paule Marshall as expressed in Triangular Road which this paper considers as the postcolonial kunstlerroman par excellence.





Physical description






  • Jablon Madelyn (1999), The Kunstlerroman and the Blues Hero, in Black Metaficion: Self and Consciousness in African-American Literature. Iowa: UIP.
  • Marshall Paule (2009), Triangular Road: A Memoir, New York: Basic Civitas Books.
  • Martin E. Judith (2002), The Nineteenth–Century German Kunstler(in)roman: Tranforming Gender and Genre, in New Comparison: A Journal of Comparative and General Literary Studies, No. 33-34, Spring/Autumn 2002, pp. 61-71.
  • Pourgiv Farideh and Sara Ebrahimi Rahmati (2010), The Female Artist within the Framing Narrative, in The Tenant of Wildfell Hall in Kata, vol 12, no 2, December 2010, pp. 127-139.
  • Taylor-Jay Claire (2002), Self and Society in the Early Twentieth-Century Kunsleroper, in New Comparison: A Journal of Comparative and General Literary Studies, No. 33-34, Spring/Autumn 2002, pp. 71-83.

Document Type

Publication order reference



YADDA identifier

JavaScript is turned off in your web browser. Turn it on to take full advantage of this site, then refresh the page.