Bodyless courage

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Senior Member
Hi everyone,
does anyone know what "bodyless courage" means? Here's the sentence, taken by Zora Neale Hurston’s Letter to Countee Cullen on Segregation, 1943:

You are right in assuming that I am indifferent to the pattern of things. I am. I have never liked stale phrases and bodyless courage. I have the nerve to walk my own way, however hard, in my search for reality, rather than climb upon the rattling wagon of wishful illusions.

Thank you in advance,
  • natkretep

    Moderato con anima (English Only)
    English (Singapore/UK), basic Chinese
    I can only assume that this refers to courage that is all a matter of words (all bravura and bravado) rather than steadfast action.


    Senior Member
    English - U.S.
    I'll take a guess.

    I think it might mean she doesn't go along with the crowd. Stale phrases are slogans many other people have used. Bodyless courage is when you say the same "courageous" things everyone else in a big crowd is saying. You're not taking a significant personal risk. She says that she goes her own way. Even when she is all alone in her opinions, she says what she thinks.

    I admit I don't know what the reference to illusions is about. Maybe she thinks that groups with lots of trite slogans are disconnected from reality.
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