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Black OdysseysThe Homeric Odyssey in the African Diaspora since 1939$
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Justine McConnell

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780199605002

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199605002.001.0001

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A Deep South Odyssey: Jon Amiel’s Sommersby

A Deep South Odyssey: Jon Amiel’s Sommersby

(p.155) 4 A Deep South Odyssey: Jon Amiel’s Sommersby
Black Odysseys

Justine McConnell

Oxford University Press

Set at the precise moment that slavery was abolished in the Deep South at the close of the American Civil War, Sommersby is, for complicated reasons and in complex ways, based on the plot of the Odyssey.The tension between Odysseus and Eumaeus, and the original Odyssey’s ‘class ambivalence’, elicit in the story told in Sommersby an unusually (for Hollywood) profound set of insights that illuminate the moral, emotional, and economic ramifications of radical shifts in the relationship between newly emancipated slaves and their former masters. The Odyssey’s Eumaeus and Eurycleia are reconfigured in the film’s Joseph and Esther, and the pervasive presence of the Ku Klux Klan hangs over the new era being ushered in.

Keywords:   Sommersby, Eumaeus, Eurycleia, American Civil War, Ku Klux Klan, slave

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