Black Prometheus and the Undoing of Novelistic Form
Drawing on a sample of texts from around the Atlantic world and across the Age of Atlantic Slavery—J. Hector St. John de Crèvecoeur’s, Letters from an American Farmer, Victor Hugo’s Bug-Jargal, Gertrudis Gómez de Avellaneda y Arteaga’s Sab, Frederick Douglass’s The Heroic Slave, and Herman Melville’s Benito Cereno—this chapter offers a preliminary structuralist analysis of the narratological-theological complex of Atlantic fictions of slave rebellion. Fictions of slave rebellion tend to rebel against their own narrative forms, reflecting but also reflecting on what Michel-Rolph Trouillot has called the “unthinkability” of large-scale slave revolt. This undoing typically occurs around tableaux of a black Prometheus. In their auto-deconstruction, these texts register the metaphysical disruption slave revolt effects in the global immanence.
Keywords: J. Hector St. John de Crevecoeur, Victor Hugo, Gertrudis Gomez de Avellaneda y Arteaga, Frederick Douglass, Herman Melville, narratology, omniscience, Michel-Rolph Trouillot, antislavery fiction
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