Among the five non-hypertextual books in APHRODITE are three (aside from the initial All and the terminal Excelling) set in places especially appropriate to the goddess: India (Happening), Thailand (Or) and Italy (Divine). Though latterly self-subdued by imitation of the British colonialist’s Victorian prudery, India’s remains an essentially erotic culture, as its living tradition of dance and drama (transformed into modern videos and romantic movies), its ancient sculpture and its general warmth manifest. India is a large country with high mountains, deserts, great rivers and a lengthy coastline. It is marked by differences in temperature, diet and religious practice, to say nothing of language and politics. Unlike many former colonies it is on amiable terms with its former colonizers, who contributed to its present status as a unified nation by establishing institutions of learning and administration, networks of transportation and communication. The variety of MM’s Happening reflects the richness of ancient, medieval, colonial and post-colonial India. Its voicing is notably less schematic than that of earlier intertextual books and therefore more egalitarian, as suits a democracy. Its secondary voices more closely resemble the narrator’s. Morrison has undoubtedly been influenced by India’s contributions to the West, in comparative philology, philosophy and religion.
The full text of Happening
The opening paragraphs of Happening in French translation
Arvind Thomas, “Causality, Chance, Intertext, Topos and Plot in Happening” (PDF), from MM: The Sentence Commuted
D. Gnanasekaran, pages from “The Intertextuality of Body and Soul”