66 pages 2 hours read

Honorée Fanonne Jeffers

The Love Songs of W.E.B. Du Bois

Fiction | Novel | Adult | Published in 2021

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Literary Devices


The term “intertextuality” refers to relationships between texts and is often used to describe one author purposely referencing another. Jeffers uses intertextuality throughout the novel, sometimes directly and sometimes indirectly. The genealogy with which she opens the book brings to mind biblical genealogies that trace family lines through dozens of generations. The title of the book evokes T.S. Eliot’s “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock,” a poem about a man filled with regrets about the emptiness that characterizes his life. Ailey’s high school, Toomer High, undoubtedly takes its name from famous Black author Jean Toomer, who lived and wrote in Georgia for many years. Cordelia’s memories about Wood Place burning down echo the Southern Gothic plots of William Faulkner’s fiction. Cordelia says that Jinx Franklin came to the front door of Wood Place but was told to go around to the back entrance by the Black maid; this exact series of events served as the origin story for one of Faulkner’s greatest villains, Thomas Sutpen. When Wood Place subsequently catches fire, the reader has to wonder if Jinx Franklin set the blaze, just like another Faulknerian character, the perpetually aggrieved pyromaniac Abner Snopes in “