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Reading Nigel Penn’s historical narrative of Tryntjie of Madagascar, I continue my argument about the illegibility of Tryntjie’s will in the archive. Despite the care that Penn takes, notions such as fatal passion, seduction, and romance creep into his evaluation of Tryntjie’s relationship with the husband of her slave mistress, Menssink. This results, I argue, from slavery’s yoking together of captive person and property that places our notions of consent and will in crisis. To critically reimagine Tryntjie’s will, I examine contemporary notions of submission and coercion in Andre Brink’s historical fiction The Rights of Desire, based on Penn’s...

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