This article turns to the space of the colony in the eighteenth-century Atlantic world to offer an alternative theory of the novel—one that defines colonial geographies as constitutive of the novel as a genre rather than as marginal and inessential. In looking to such colonial locations as they appear in the novel, I advance a claim concerning aesthetics and politics: namely, in the eighteenth century it is the demos—the collectivity and the geography of that collectivity, the defining of a people—that requires constituting by way of the genre of the novel as much as it is the novelistic subject. Turned in such a light, the genre of the novel can be seen as one that marshals aesthetic resources toward generating horizontal collectivities (democratic structures, for instance) that are distinct from, and in tension with, vertically oriented genealogical kinship structures. I argue that the aesthetics at play in the novel as a genre are instrumental in creating and defining the demos and its limits; moreover, it is precisely at the site of the limit (figured within, say, the liminal space of the colony) that the more radical possibilities of democracy come into focus. The novel set in the extranational space of the colony—including a number of novels concerning the Haitian Revolution that I examine here and, most prominently, the US redaction of Victor Hugo's Bug-Jargal, titled The Slave-King— opens the possibility of modes of postgenealogical assemblage that far exceed that of liberal nationalism.
Elizabeth Maddock Dillon; Reassembling the Novel: Kinlessness and the Novel of the Haitian Revolution. Novel 1 May 2014; 47 (1): 167–185. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00295132-2414120
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