How Slave Narratives Influenced American Literature: A Source for Herman Melville's Billy Budd (Hardback)
  • How Slave Narratives Influenced American Literature: A Source for Herman Melville's Billy Budd (Hardback)

How Slave Narratives Influenced American Literature: A Source for Herman Melville's Billy Budd (Hardback)

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Hardback Published: 01/02/2009
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This study demonstrates how narratives by Frederick Douglas' and Herman Melville argue that subjugation is an unnatural condition and that left on their own, all men will join together into communities to fully realize their potential as men. This study considers how the slave narrative influences American literature well past the antebellum period. It focuses on the value society must rediscover in the cultural doctrines of the right to personal security and freedom of expression. It should interest scholars concerned with the conflicted dialog of race and class in the United States. In Douglass' three narratives, a slave's life lacks moral value because slavery's institutional protocols deprive him of any decent means to shape his life. Similarly, in "Billy Budd"Q, Melville creates a 'Baby' Budd that does not take responsibility for himself. It is only when Fred and Billy contrive to join society as equal members of community in rites that recall the primitive Christian ceremony of agape that they become full men. They do so, however, in imperfect societies that persist in error. Consequently, decency and indecency challenge decorum. Nevertheless, this ambivalence does not prevent agape from uniting men.

Publisher: The Edwin Mellen Press Ltd
ISBN: 9780773448261

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