By Donald A. Petesch
Publication by means of Petesch, Donald A.
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Additional info for A Spy in the Enemy's Country: The Emergence of Modern Black Literature
As Frederickson characterizes the earlier arguments: "Under slavery ... ' Hence docility was not so much a natural characteristic as an artificial creation of slavery. As long as the control of the master was firm and assured, the slave would be happy, loyal, and affectionate; but remove or weaken the authority of the master, and he would revert to type as a bloodthirsty savage.... "27 Black "savagery" is characterized as "bloodthirsty" in the pre-Civil War arguments, where revolt is the specter in the white psyche.
In the 1878 edition it is claimed that 100,000 copies of the book had been sold. Indeed, a Dutch translation appeared in 1877 and a French edition in the following year. Within two years after its publication in 1853, Twelve Years a Slave: The Narrative of Solomon Northup had sold 27,000 copies. The Narrative of William Wells Brown sold 8,000 copies (four editions) by 1849. Needless to say, The Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass (1845) and My Bondage and My Freedom (1855) were widely read.
Many of the qualities that have characterized black literature have evolved from its early public roleblack literature has been the literary equivalent of the commissions of inquiryas well as from its reflection of the very different sociohistorical experience of blacks in America. In its early public role, its purpose has been to report on the conditions of black life to a hypothetically decent, Christian, democratic audience in the expectation that once that audience was made aware of the gap between democratic, Christian ideals and daily, mundane practice, change would occur.
A Spy in the Enemy's Country: The Emergence of Modern Black Literature by Donald A. Petesch