To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature

To Wake the Nations: Race in the Making of American Literature

by Eric J. Sundquist
     
 

This powerful book argues that white culture in America does not exist apart from black culture. The revolution of the rights of man that established this country collided long ago with the system of slavery, and we have been trying to reestablish a steady course for ourselves ever since. To Wake the Nations is urgent and rousing: we have integrated our buses, schools… See more details below

Overview

This powerful book argues that white culture in America does not exist apart from black culture. The revolution of the rights of man that established this country collided long ago with the system of slavery, and we have been trying to reestablish a steady course for ourselves ever since. To Wake the Nations is urgent and rousing: we have integrated our buses, schools, and factories, but not the canon of American literature. That is the task Eric Sundquist has assumed in a book that ranges from politics to literature, from Uncle Remus to African American spirituals. But the hallmark of this volume is a sweeping reevaluation of the glory years of American literature - from 1830 to 1930 - that shows how white literature and black literature form a single interwoven tradition. By examining African America's contested relation to the intellectual and literary forms of white culture, Sundquist reconstructs the main lines of American literary tradition from the decades before the Civil War through the early twentieth century. An opening discussion of Nat Turner's "Confessions," recorded by a white man, Thomas Gray, establishes a paradigm for the complexity of meanings that Sundquist uncovers in American literary texts. Focusing on Frederick Douglass's autobiographical books, Herman Melville's Benito Cereno, Martin Delany's novel Blake; or the Huts of America, Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, Charles Chesnutt's fiction, and W.E.B. Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk and Darkwater, Sundquist considers each text against a rich background of history, law, literature, politics, religion, folklore, music, and dance. These readings lead to insights into components of the culture at large: slavery as it intersected with postcolonial revolutionary ideology; literary representations of the legal and political foundations of segregation; and the transformation of elements of African and antebellum folk consciousness into the public forms of American literature.

Read More

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780674893306
Publisher:
Harvard University Press
Publication date:
02/28/1993
Pages:
720
Product dimensions:
6.69(w) x 9.61(h) x 1.71(d)

Table of Contents

Introduction1
Pt. ISlavery, Revolution, Renaissance
1Signs of Power: Nat Turner and Frederick Douglass27
San Domingo and Its Patriots31
Nat Turner, Thomas Gray, and the Phenomenology of Slavery36
Ibo Warriors56
Blackhead Signpost: Prophecy and Terror67
Frederick Douglas's Revisions83
Iron Sentences: Paternity, Literacy, Liberty93
Broken Fetters: The Right of Revolution112
2Melville, Delany, and New World Slavery135
Memory, Authority, and the Shadowy Tableau139
The Play of the Barber155
Ashantee Conjurors: Africanisms and Africanization163
The Law of Nature or the Hive of Subtlety175
Caribbean Empires182
"It Is Wrote in Jeremiah": American Maroons189
Sugar, Conspiracy, and the Ladder199
El Dia de los Reyes210
Pt. IIThe Color Line
3Mark Twain and Homer Plessy225
The Second Slavery228
The Badge of Servitude: Homer Plessy and the Rise of Segregation233
Blaspheming Colors, Extraordinary Twins249
A Whisper to the Reader263
4Charles Chesnut's Cakewalk271
The Origin of the Cakewalk276
Word Shadows and Alternating Sounds: Folklore, Dialect, and Vernacular294
Uncle Remus, Uncle Julius, and the New Negro323
"De Ole Times," Slave Culture, and Africa347
Talking Bones: Conjure and Narrative359
White Weeds: The Pathology of the Color Line392
Fusion: The Marrow of Tradition406
A Great Black Future and a Doll435
Pt. IIIW.E.B. Du Bois: African America and the Kingdom of Culture
5Swing Low: The Souls of Black Folk457
In the Kingdom of Culture459
"This Wonderful Music of Bondage"467
Bright Sparkles: Music and Text490
Black and Unknown Bards: A Theory of the Sorrow Songs525
6The Spell of Africa540
The Color Line Belts the World546
"Ethiopia Shall Stretch Forth Her Hands": Toward Pan-Africanism551
Africa: The Hidden Self and the Pageant of Nationalism563
The Burden of Black Women581
The Black Christ and Other Prophets592
Notes627
Acknowledgments693
Index695

Read More

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >