Doolen examines the interrelationship between transnationalist ideology and the African American experience in Martin Delany's novel Blake; or, The Huts of America. In the antebellum struggle against slavery and racism, abolitionists considered fiction less effective than more factual narrative forms. However, Doolen argues that Martin Delany uses the novel form to identify how the fictions of white supremacy established the terms and categories of U.S. historiography. Recognizing that white-authored histories helped maintain the institutions of slavery, Delany attempts to remove African Americans from a nationalist discourse that automatically referred their appeals for racial justice back to a failed white revolutionary project. Doolen argues that the transnational shift that structures Blake—a movement between the United States and Cuba—constituted Delany's rejection of American Revolutionary time and space. By the time of the novel's abrupt ending, Delany had developed a hemispheric context for black liberation that cannot be traced back to the eighteenth-century corruptions of American republicanism. Finally, Doolen makes a case for Blake's literary complexity by emphasizing the nuanced relationship between novelistic and historical writing. In the process, Doolen challenges the standard chronology of African American literary history in which abolitionism's political, rhetorical, and formulaic constraints supposedly hindered the development of a fictional tradition prior to Emancipation.
- Views Icon Views
Andy Doolen; “Be Cautious of the Word `Rebel'”: Race, Revolution, and Transnational History in Martin Delany's Blake; or, The Huts of America. American Literature 1 March 2009; 81 (1): 153–179. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00029831-2008-054
Download citation file:
- Share Icon Share