Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence

Description

80 pages
$10.95
ISBN 0-920544-88-6
DDC C813'.54

Publisher

Year

1991

Contributor

Reviewed by Susan Minsos

Susan Minsos is a sessional instructor of English at the University of
Alberta.

Review

As Michael Ondaatje poetically re-explores and reinvents the career of
William Bonney in his The Collected Works of BiIly the Kids, so Philip
structures her political metahistory Looking for Livingstone. In prose
and poetry, the traveller-narrator describes her search for—and
around, and beyond—the adventurer David Livingstone.

The traveller’s journey transcends time and occasion. She asserts
that she has “been on the road for some five million years.”
Livingstone’s life spans 70 years in the nineteenth century, yet
traveller and adventurer meet. The well-known Scottish explorer, who
“now lies buried at Westminster Abbey because he ‘discovered’ and
explored Africa,” informs the traveller that he found Victoria Falls:
a fact. Not so, counters the traveller, who makes much of the famous
word, “presume,” associated with the Stanley-Livingstone meeting.
“Sekeletu, chief of the Makololo, discovered the Falls.” Named them
“Mosioatunya.” For her own sake, the traveller wants to discover
what language has obscured. She regards “Silences” as palpable
things that belong to “their owners” and comments to Livingstone,
“but there had to have been silence before there were words, right?”
In defending his exploration of Africa and his consequent fame,
Livingstone can’t cope with the accusations, the sexuality, or the
silent primal force of the female traveller.

Citation

Philip, Marlene Nourbese., “Looking for Livingstone: An Odyssey of Silence,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 22, 2024, https://cbra.library.utoronto.ca/items/show/12063.