Slaves and Brothers in Pendennis
This chapter demonstrates how W. M. Thackeray burlesques the slave narrative in Pendennis (1848-50) by emptying the genre of its racial and political signification and applying it to the debate over transatlantic copyright and professional authorship. Parodying abolitionist rhetoric and imagery in his account of young Pendennis's journey to authorship, Thackeray equates the life of the writer with that of the slave: both are the victims of free circulation and economic exploitation. Rather than lament this fact, Thackeray depicts the writer as an opportunist hack who benefits from the sale of his own autobiography. This chapter explores the ethical implications of such generic appropriation and its degradation of antislavery discourse.
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