By Helena Woodard
The eighteenth century used to be a time of serious cultural switch in Britain. It was once a interval marked by way of expeditions to the recent international, Africa, and the Orient, and those voyages have been mirrored within the commute literature of the period. It was once additionally a interval during which seventeenth-century empiricism and the clinical procedure grew to become dominant, and within which society turned more and more secular. basic to the eighteenth-century worldview was once the idea of the nice Chain of Being, within which all creatures and their author stood in a hierarchical courting 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 by means of social anthropologists and political leaders. With the increase of the slave exchange, 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 way 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 ebook examines representations of blacks in eighteenth-century British literature to light up the discussions approximately race in the course of that interval. the amount starts with a dialogue of Alexander Pope's popularization of the nice Chain of Being in his Essay on Man, which argued the common rating 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, fast, and Sterne, to work out how blacks are portrayed of their works. the quantity additionally examines works through African-British writers, equivalent to James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw and Quobna Ottobah Cugoano, who disclose 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 exhibits how racial hierarchies functionality as a literary trope, relatively in trip literature. the ultimate bankruptcy, on The historical past of Mary Prince, examines the interplay of race and gender.
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Additional resources for African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century: The Politics of Race and Reason (Contributions to the Study of World Literature)
Blacker, vol. 6 [New York: Viking Press, 1965], 258-61. , 1903-1905. See also C. M. Machines, England and Slavery [Bristol: Arrowsmith, 1934], 18, Zook, 4, 11-12, 19, and Eric Williams, 30). 8. A neo-Marxist culturalist, Raymond Williams unites social conditions with cultural influences. He historicizes culture as a reaction to changes in perceptions about art and class, though not as the embodiment of a way of life that these terms came to mean in the nineteenth century. For Williams, it is not so much that economics predetermine culture, but that culture is appropriated to economics in a way that maintains social order and stability.
He adds, "Just as absurd for any part to claim / To be another, in this gen'ral frame: / Just as absurd, to mourn the tasks or pains, / The great directing MIND of ALL ordains (I. 263-66). While acknowledging Pope's seemingly organic social meaning, Priestley concludes that the lines represent a nonhierarchical extended analogy of function, an organic unity in the service of the divine Will. In other words, like fingers on the hand or limbs to the body, individuals function equally in tasks for society's benefit, regardless of their social stations.
Consequently, Estwick's publication, like Petty's Scale of Creatures nearly a century earlier, is neither an insignificant nor minor a part of the Chain's discursive legacy. Ultimately Pope mediates the ideological space between the Chain as a placement of individuals in universal creation and as a hierarchical arrangement of individuals, by proclaiming a universal positionality in the former and racial transcendence in the latter. A representative, recurrent Enlightenment figure, Pope is nominally sympathetic but resolutely hierarchical.