This article tests Americanist claims about Edgar Allan Poe's racism against Latin American, Caribbean, and contemporary African-American literature written under his influence. I start with a discussion of Toni Morrison's agenda-setting reading of Poe in Playing in the Dark: Whiteness and the Literary Imagination (1992). I show how Poe's only novel, The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym (1838), resists Morrison's interpretation by playing ironically on white anxiety and Black creativity. I then follow this mode along an international itinerary of authors working in styles and modes pioneered by Poe: Comte de Lautréamont, Ruben Darío, the Negritude poets, and the contemporary African American novelist Mat Johnson. I submit that these later writers exploit Poe's formal strategies for more explicitly anti-racist and anti-colonial aesthetics.
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Research Article| December 01 2015
“Negras Aguas”: The Poe Tradition and the Limits of American Africanism
Comparative Literature (2015) 67 (4): 415–428.
Matt Sandler; “Negras Aguas”: The Poe Tradition and the Limits of American Africanism. Comparative Literature 1 December 2015; 67 (4): 415–428. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00104124-3327542
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