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The American Slave Narrative and the Victorian Novel$
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Julia Sun-Joo Lee

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9780195390322

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: May 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195390322.001.0001

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Slaves and Brothers in Pendennis

Slaves and Brothers in Pendennis

(p.53) 2 Slaves and Brothers in Pendennis
The American Slave Narrative and the Victorian Novel

Julia Sun-Joo Lee (Contributor Webpage)

Oxford University Press

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.

Keywords:   copyright, authorship, slavery, transatlantic, race, Thackeray, Pendennis

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