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Feast of ExcessA Cultural History of the New Sensibility$
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George Cotkin

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190218478

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.001.0001

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“Utmost Freedom of Imagination”

“Utmost Freedom of Imagination”

William Styron 1967

Chapter:
(p.227) { 16 } “Utmost Freedom of Imagination”
Source:
Feast of Excess
Author(s):

George Cotkin

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190218478.003.0018

Novelist William Styron had long thought about blurring the line between fact and fiction by writing about a black slave named Nat Turner, who had led a rebellion in the nineteenth-century South. By the time Styron published his genre-bending book, which depicted Nat as an ineffectual, neurotic leader and desirous for a white woman, the Black Power movement was flourishing. While novelist and essayist James Baldwin defended his friend’s artistic freedom and daring, many black intellectuals condemned him vociferously. This chapter also places the novel within the confessional mode central to the New Sensibility and understands it within the context of studies of slavery from this period. It considers the book an early example of a postmodern sensibility.

Keywords:   William Styron, Nat Turner, James Baldwin, civil rights, Black Power

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