Martin Delany's Blake; or the Huts of America, a serialized novel about a black West Indian who plans a hemispheric slave rebellion, theorizes the nineteenth-century nation-state. While scholars have drawn connections between seriality and the establishment of nation-states, Blake complicates notions of transparent relationships among the parts and wholes of periodicals and national collectives. The complex serial publication of Blake performs the logic of what Martin Delany called elsewhere the “nation within the nation.” The conversation among various texts within texts—what I call a type of intratextuality—renders the nineteenth-century problem of raced nations within nations analogous to the problematic of Blake's textual existence. Blake's serial printing in the Weekly Anglo-African, which ran concurrently with advertisements for another version of Blake, provides a way to think about “texts within texts” that demonstrates the tensions that arise when individuals or entities exist both inside and outside various national or textual totalities. The novel's serialization also enacts a type of history that compresses different periods into the briefer time of the novel's plot and disrupts Benedict Anderson's axiomatic theories of how seriality helps imagine the nation. Delany's changing views on Haiti and black emigration plans—published alongside Blake in the Weekly Anglo-African—produce a serial palimpsest of Delany's dynamic politics. In addition, the novel depicts a malleability of racial formation that it simultaneously critiques and authorizes. Ultimately, the novel's intratextuality inflects Blake's depiction of a disjointed nation-state and reworks common understandings of periodicity and nation formation.
Katy Chiles; Within and without Raced Nations: Intratextuality, Martin Delany, and Blake; or the Huts of America. American Literature 1 June 2008; 80 (2): 323–352. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2008-005
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