Dans i mörker

Dans i m rker Bert Williams is the funniest man I ever saw and the saddest man I ever knew W C Fields Born in the Bahamas in and brought up there and in Los Angeles Bert Williams was disappointed early in lif

  • Title: Dans i mörker
  • Author: Caryl Phillips
  • ISBN: 9789146213123
  • Page: 439
  • Format: Hardcover
  • Bert Williams is the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew W C Fields Born in the Bahamas in 1874 and brought up there and in Los Angeles Bert Williams was disappointed early in life when his attempt to enter Stanford University was thwarted by his family s poverty His early forays into the West Coast entertainment business saw him fare no better Bert Williams is the funniest man I ever saw, and the saddest man I ever knew W C Fields Born in the Bahamas in 1874 and brought up there and in Los Angeles Bert Williams was disappointed early in life when his attempt to enter Stanford University was thwarted by his family s poverty His early forays into the West Coast entertainment business saw him fare no better After a time playing African savages in white companies with his friend and theatrical partner to be George Walker, they made the agonising decision to play the coon Off stage, Williams was a tall, light skinned man with marked poise and dignity but on stage he now became a shuffling, inept nigger who pulled a wig of kinky hair over his head, wore blackface make up, and concealed his hands in gloves They were an immediate hit with Walker playing the dapper, straight man, and Williams the bumbling fool As the new century dawned they were headlining on Broadway and amongst the highest paid entertainers in the country But the mask was beginning to overwhelm Williams who felt increasingly degraded by his situation and began to sink into bouts of melancholia and heavy drinking After his flamboyant partner died in 1911 the continued personal humiliations that accompanied his professional success became difficult to bear In 1921, after a lifetime of being denied top billing because of his colour, his name was in lights as he headlined in the musical comedy Under The Bamboo Tree He was leading an entirely white company but he was still trapped in blackface.Dancing in the Dark is an outstanding novel as much about the tragedy of race and identity, and the perils of reinvention, as it is about the life of one remarkable man.

    One thought on “Dans i mörker”

    1. Struggled with the writing style so muchwith all the chopping and changing of perspectives, I loss sight of much of the plot, which is a shame as the language used was really captivating and one of the main reasons I continued till the end

    2. I feel bad giving this book such a low rating when it appears so many others enjoyed it. It was the writing style that brought it down for me. The sudden changes in perspective, third person omnipresent, first person, third person limited, and then 'newspaper' articles, and wow, it just ended up doing my head in.I can't help but wonder how much was real, and how much is Phillips' imagination coming into play. I think if this book was written in a much more linear form, and the perspective wasn't [...]

    3. I'm really behind in reading the novels of this wonderful, prolific writer! What an amazing, bitter and sadly shifting novel of voices, thoughts and alienation about a world where entertaining becomes a means of degrading oneselves to insanity.

    4. actually started enjoy the reading from the second part on. Not a bad book, though But definitely not the kind of book I would read to relax and have a good time. Too difficult to change so many points of view and understand each time who's talking and about what. 2 out of 5 is fair for me, but I think the writer would be able to do so much better and besides, issues confronted in the book are totally valid, but a preparation reading or collecting information about the age and place where the no [...]

    5. "She knows a colored woman cannot expect too much out of this life" p.53 This quote captures society's view of women. Being a woman and colored was enough for society to require Ada to expect little out of life. Women of all races are put down and demeaned because of factors they cannot control like their race and gender. When they dare to expect more like Ada does, they are policed by religion, the government and social forums.Thelma Amoah

    6. I heard Caryl Phillips, author of ‘Dancing in the Dark,’ at Toronto’s International Festival of Authors some years ago. I was impressed with Phillips, who was born in St. Kitts, West Indies and brought up in Britain. I was interested in what he had to say about his background and very much enjoyed his reading. Also, I’m writing a Caribbean black character as part of the new novel I’m working on — and it’s Black History Month at the moment — so the time was definitely ripe to read [...]

    7. Saint Kitts and Nevis"The balance has gone.""He once more closes his eyes and urges his mind to hurry back in the direction of the Caribbean.""In this new place they are now encouraged to see themselves as inferior.""It is true, journeys don't always leave footprints.""I truly lost sight of myself many years ago.""Do you really understand what they want from us in this American world? We are being held hostage as performers, and those who imagine that they are engaged in something other than ent [...]

    8. This book was so well-received, certainly among my fellow GoodReaders, that I feel somewhat out of step in my disappointment. I love Bert Williams, I love historical fiction, and I didn't care for this. In this novelization of the life of Bert Williams, Phillips concentrates on guilt that Phillips places on Williams' shoulders for playing the "coon" for white audiences in the vaudeville era. If Williams felt guilt, he certainly wasn't alone because he caught heat from black contemporaries for de [...]

    9. What a sad, sad book. Melancoly. OH MY! It was a fictionized (is there such a word?) story about one of the very first black performers in the early 1900's. It actually was a two team comedy, singing and dancing act one of which sported black face (if you remember Al Jolson - even tho he was white Bert, in the book, also sported that type of black face with the exaggerated lips). The author weaved a story of sadness that plagued the performers b/c although their life was in the performance, the [...]

    10. It's strange to read the Wiki entry for Bert Williams after the book, since the Wiki entry employs a defensive, even celebratory tone to describe Williams's career, whereas Dancing in the Dark never loses sight of the pathos of blackface performance. Phillips does a great job of capturing Williams as a melancholic alcoholic who has internalized American culture's racism and criticisms of his work by black intellectuals--he's really getting it from both ends, so to speak--but the book rarely vent [...]

    11. I feel like a bad person for not knowing who Bert Williams was before I started reading this book. I'm still not convinces I know him, because this book was fraught with Williams' confusion over his own identity as a Black performer at the turn of the 19th and into the 20th century. A (and it pains me to write this) "coon," mocking his own blackness (often in blackface, Williams elicited laughs from white audiences and often disgust or outright hatred from African American audiences. He gave up [...]

    12. A somewhat confusing narrative that shifts regularly from character to character and from fiction to reality. Of course, this is in the cause of underlining the ambiguities of any claim to 'truth', but it can occasionally lead the reader to tear at his hair.The text itself weaves news clippings and interviews, and extracts from the original musicals and songs made famous by Bert Williams, once said to be the most famous black man in America. It has it's merit, but I'm not sure that it made me an [...]

    13. This book tells the tale of Bert Williams, one of America's first black Vaudeville performers. It is basically historical fiction, told from a first-person perspective, but it is fascinating nevertheless. Set in the early half of the 20th Century, it outlines the struggle of black performers to gain credibility in an all-white theatre environment, during a time when white actors were still doing 'black-face'. This book is unflinching and touching, and although the storyline can get a little conf [...]

    14. Dancing in the Dark is a novel about Bert Williams, an African American entertainer in the 1800's performing as a "Black face" actor. The novel explores racism in the form of black face performances. Caryl Phillips used dialogue and characterization to illustrate the life of an African American man and his struggle against racism and identity. The novel is divided into chapters and acts. This creates a sense of place and helps the reader follow the story as it progresses.

    15. Typical Caryl Phillips book. Very well written but oh, sad. The first read, it was very moving and enjoyable. After the second read, though, I started to see flaws Why does his protagonist's life have to be so unrelentingly unhappy! I've read a couple of other books by the author and they're both along similar lines. I guess he's just an author happy to write sad books. He does it well.

    16. This is a brutally frank portrayal of the conflicting tensions between freedom and revulsion during the life journey of the first black American star as he performs in Ziegfeld's Follies in blackface.

    17. Always interested in early American musical theater history, and Bert Williams is one of the most fascinating figures. I thought this would be more history and less novel-like, but it's well written.

    18. I appreciate historical fiction and I'm sure the sadness that the main character experiences in this story was very real and wide spread during that time, but it was just too depressing for me to get anything thing else out of it.

    19. The jumping around in points of view (from person to person, as well as from 1st person to 3rd person to newspaper article) was too distracting for me.

    20. This book is awkwardly written, it jumps from third person to first then back to third and this disorientation made it an arduous read.

    21. A beautifully written - and fictionalized - glimpse into the life of Bert Williams. I need to re-read this one.

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