By Helena Woodard
The eighteenth century used to be a time of significant cultural switch in Britain. It used to be a interval marked through expeditions to the hot global, Africa, and the Orient, and those voyages have been mirrored within the go back and forth literature of the period. It was once additionally a interval within which seventeenth-century empiricism and the medical technique turned dominant, and within which society grew to become more and more secular. basic to the eighteenth-century worldview used to be the thought of the good Chain of Being, within which all creatures and their author stood in a hierarchical dating with each other. The years from 1660 to 1833 witnessed either Britain's participation in slavery and the appropriation of the good Chain of Being via social anthropologists and political leaders. With the increase of the slave alternate, blacks have been delivered to Britain opposed to their will, the place they have been enslaved. even as, intellectuals of the interval attempted to put those slaves in the hierarchical body supplied by means of the nice Chain of Being.
The presence of slavery in Britain aroused a lot debate between blacks and whites alike, and the literature of the eighteenth century displays that discuss. This publication examines representations of blacks in eighteenth-century British literature to light up the discussions approximately race in the course of that interval. the quantity starts off with a dialogue of Alexander Pope's popularization of the nice Chain of Being in his Essay on Man, which argued the common score of humanity and which supplied an highbrow starting place for slavery. It then examines the works of numerous white canonical writers, together with Defoe, Addison and Steele, speedy, and Sterne, to determine how blacks are portrayed of their works. the quantity additionally examines works by way of African-British writers, resembling James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw and Quobna Ottobah Cugoano, who divulge exclusionary practices between a few theologians; Ignatius Sancho, whose Letters exhibit how slaves have been taught to be thankful, and the way these missing gratitude have been thought of inhuman; and Olaudah Equiano, who indicates how racial hierarchies functionality as a literary trope, quite in shuttle literature. the ultimate bankruptcy, on The background of Mary Prince, examines the interplay of race and gender.
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Additional info for African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century: The Politics of Race and Reason (Contributions to the Study of World Literature)
In Essay on Man, Pope allows that the untutored mind of the Native American, like Science, is incapable of understanding God's ways—and that others must learn from the Native American's simple nature, which is regarded as happier, more trusting, and more humble than Science: "Lo! the poor Indian, whose untutor'd mind / Sees God in clouds, or hears him in the wind; / His Soul, proud Science Reading Pope/Reasoning Race 11 never taught to stray" (I. 101-103). The Native American seeks merely to exist securely in a humble abode—away from a technological world "where slaves once more their native land behold" and where "no fiends torment, no Christians thirst for gold" (I.
The disparity between the public and the private here exposes inherent flaws in a theory that purports to divorce one from the other. In other words, Cotta reveals what happens to theory when it is applied to real social models. Pope's claims that individual personal sacrifices work for the good of the whole and that evil misunderstood by humanity can translate into universal good clash with specific situations as complex and tragic as slavery. When racial identity is itself considered a precondition to an individual's qualifications for moral consideration, a crisis of interpretation develops.
See Etienne Balibar in Anatomy of Racism, ed. David Theo Goldberg (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1990), 283. Though addressing issues in the twentieth-century arena, Balibar affirms just as validly for the eighteenth century that racism's excesses both universalize nationalism (almost subversively) by "correcting in sum its lack of universality," and particularize it, "correcting its lack of specificity" (283). 19. Queen Elizabeth herself ordered the deportation of blacks from England on 11 July 1596 in an open letter to the Lord Mayor of London and the mayors of other cities.