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Peer-Review Record

Subterranean Sound, Expatriation, and the Metaphor of Home: A Fictional Descent with Richard Wright

Humanities 2022, 11(5), 128;
by Robin E. Preiss
Reviewer 1:
Reviewer 2: Anonymous
Humanities 2022, 11(5), 128;
Submission received: 15 September 2022 / Revised: 9 October 2022 / Accepted: 10 October 2022 / Published: 18 October 2022
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sound Studies in African American Literature and Culture)

Round 1

Reviewer 1 Report

I thoroughly enjoyed this essay. Your argument is well-conceived and carefully developed, and the connections you make between Wright's novel and the critical work on sound theory and the Transatlantic passage are powerful and convincing. My only deep question is why you reference multiple versions of Wright's novel. I understand that the 1961 version is different from the 2021 version (and may even differ from yet a third version). But for the purposes of your paper, I think it's best to use only one version for analysis (perhaps the 2021 version since that is the most complete version of the story, untouched by magazine editors). Unless your analysis depends on comparing the different versions of this text (which is doesn't), then citing from different versions is confusing. Choose one version.

Again, I found your essay compelling, and it enriches my understanding of this important novel.

p.s Please note as well that I have made minor stylistic and editing recommendations to your essay. 

Comments for author File: Comments.pdf

Author Response

Please see the attachment.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

Reviewer 2 Report

This essay asks a series of thoughtful and engaging questions about Richard Wright's The Man Who Lived Underground. I really like how the piece cuts straight to the chase and seeks to offer a novel interpretation of Fred Daniels' underground retreat. I am persuaded by the argument that Daniels' experience underground reshapes how he interprets his sensory experience. He both sees and hears differently as a result of his underground escape, forcing him to see the world in a new way. The familiar becomes strange and uncanny.  I also thought the connections to Hartman and Harney & Moten are apt and work well for this piece. I believe the current version of the essay is worthy of being published. It is well-written and thought-provoking. This is the kind of article that will be generative, helping the next generation of scholars of this text explore its meaning.

That being said, I found myself wanting more from the piece--not because the piece wasn't good, but because I wanted to the scholar to expand their analysis of sound and the undercommons. The article does not engage with Daniels' religious awakening in the last part of the second book. Only underground and invisible does Daniels really hear a religious message. Wright emphasize the religious undertones of the novel in "Memories of his Grandmother" and I wanted to learn how this scholar interpreted this. The other part that I wanted the writer to unpack farther is the seeming paradox between the "feelings in common" (line 401) that undergird the undercommons and the isolation of Fred Daniels throughout the entire story. Both Hartman and Harney & Moten seem to be describing shared Black experiences that produce a common culture and framework. Daniels never returns and reconnects to the Black community, because he is trying to deal with his religious guilt. (As a reader, I am troubled that Daniels ignores his wife and daughter. I wanted Daniels to visit his family and then try to "clear" his name).  I thought the writer might have more to say about these tensions and I would love to learn from this writer!

For this reader, I was less interested in the sections about Wright's decision to be an ex-patriot in the context of this novel and the "reverberating legacy."  I wanted more about the novel itself and this scholar's insightful theoretical explorations.


Author Response

Please see the attachment.

Author Response File: Author Response.pdf

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