Jump to ContentJump to Main Navigation
Show Summary Details
More options …

arcadia

International Journal of Literary Culture / Internationale Zeitschrift für literarische Kultur

Ed. by Biti, Vladimir / Liska, Vivian


CiteScore 2018: 0.12

SCImago Journal Rank (SJR) 2018: 0.122
Source Normalized Impact per Paper (SNIP) 2018: 0.329

Online
ISSN
1613-0642
See all formats and pricing
More options …
Volume 53, Issue 1

Issues

Mimetic Desire and the Complication of the Conventional Neo-Slave Narrative Form in Edward P. Jones’s The Known World

Ignatius Chukwumah
  • Corresponding author
  • Department of English and Literary Studies, Federal University Wukari, Taraba State, NigeriaFederal UniversityDepartment English and Literary StudiesWukariNigeria
  • Email
  • Other articles by this author:
  • De Gruyter OnlineGoogle Scholar
Published Online: 2018-06-05 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arcadia-2018-0002

Abstract

When critics declare that Edward P. Jones’s The Known World represents moral turpitude, capitalist proclivities, slavery, and whittling of white supremacy, their assertions are in order. But they often miss accounting for how The Known World, which bears some indices of the neo-slave narrative owing to its appropriation of the incidents of slavery in a novelistic platform, complicates its sub-tradition. This work investigates the text’s two-fold complication. First, Jones complicates the neo-slave narrative form by depicting slavery from a little known perspective of intra-racial slavery amongst black people. Then, he casts a white character, and not a black one, in the mold of a classical tragic hero. Mimetic desire, René Girard’s concept for an individual’s imitation of a prior model’s behavior, is drawn on to bare characters’ actions that accentuate both strands of complication. As the basis of all human action that includes rivalry, violence, and scapegoating, mimetic desire unravels the ‘mystery’ surrounding the sort of slavery overwhelmingly acknowledged by critics as untraditional in The Known World and the tragedy, also unique to the neo-slave narrative form, it gives rise to.

Keywords: Edward P. Jones; mimetic desire; The Known World; the neo-slave narrative

Works Cited

  • Ardoin, Paul. “Space, Aesthetic Power, and True Falsity in The Known World.” Studies in the Novel 45.4 (2013): 638–54. Google Scholar

  • Aristotle. The Poetics. Trans. Ingram Bywater. Project Gutenberg. 2009. 22 May 2010, www.gutenberg.org/ebooks/6763?msg=welcome_stranger#link2H_4_0002. Accessed 20 Feb. 2018.

  • Ashraf, H. A. Rushdy. Neo-Slave Narratives: Studies in the Social Logic of a Literary Form. New York: Oxford UP, 1999. Google Scholar

  • Bales, Kevin. Disposable People: New Slavery in the Global Economy. Berkeley, CA: U of California P, 1999.Google Scholar

  • Bales, Kevin. “Slavery is Big Business.” Slavery Today. Ed. Auriana Ojeda. New York: Greenshaven P, 2004. 23–6.Google Scholar

  • Bassard, Katherine Clay. “Imagining Other Worlds: Race, Gender, and the ‘Power Line’ in Edward P. Jones’s The Known World.” African American Review 42.3–4 (2008): 407–19. Google Scholar

  • Bell, Bernard W. The Afro-American Novel and Its Tradition. Amherst: U of Massachusetts P, 1987. Google Scholar

  • Berlin, Ira. Slaves Without Masters: The Free Negroes in the Antebellum South. New York: New Press, 1974. Google Scholar

  • Browder, Laura. Slippery characters: Ethnic Impersonators and American Identities. Chapel Hill: The U of North Carolina P, 2000. Google Scholar

  • Cooper, Alexia, and Erica L. Smith. Homicide Trends in the United States, 1980–2008. Washington, US: US Justice Department, 2012.Google Scholar

  • Donaldson, Susan. “Telling Forgotten Stories of Slavery in the Postmodern South.” Southern Literary Journal 40.2 (2008): 267–83. Google Scholar

  • Eckstein, Lars. Re-Membering the Black Atlantic: On the Poetics and Politics of Literary Memory. New York: Rodopi, 2006. Google Scholar

  • Girard, René. The Girard Reader. Ed. James G. Williams. New York: The Crossroad Publishing, 1996. Google Scholar

  • Girard, René. The Scapegoat. Trans. Yvonne Preccero. Baltimore: The Johns Hopkins UP, 1982.Google Scholar

  • Ikard, David. “White Supremacy under Fire: The Unrewarded Perspective in Edward P. Jones’s The Known World.” MELUS: Journal of Multi-ethnic Literatures of the United States 36.3 (2011): 63–85. Google Scholar

  • Jameson, Fredric. Postmodernism, or, The Cultural Logic of Late Capitalism. Durham, NC: Duke UP, 1991. Google Scholar

  • Johnson, Michael P., and James L. Roark. Black Masters: A Free Family of Colour in the Old South. New York: Norton, 1984. Google Scholar

  • Jones, Edward P. “An Interview with Edward P. Jones.” By Maryama Graham. African American Review 42.3–4 (2008): 421–38. Google Scholar

  • Jones, Edward P. The Known World. New York: Amistad, 2003. Google Scholar

  • Koger, Larry. Black Slave Owners: Free Black Slave Masters in the South Carolina, 1790–1860. Jefferson, NC: McFarland, 1985. Google Scholar

  • Morrison, Toni. Beloved. New York, NY: Knopf, 1988. Google Scholar

  • Pressly, Thomas J. “The Known World of Free Black Slaveholders: A Research Note on the Scholarship of Carter G. Woodson.” The Journal of African American History 91.1 (2006): 81–7. Google Scholar

  • Re, Richard. “A Persisting Evil: The Global Problem of Slavery.” International Harvard Review 23.4 (2002): 32–5.Google Scholar

  • Ryan, Tim A. “Mapping the Unrepresentable: Slavery Fiction in the New Millennium.” Calls and Responses: The American Novel of Slavery since Gone with the Wind. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 2008. 185–208. Google Scholar

  • Smith, Valerie. “Neo-Slave Narratives.” The Cambridge Companion to the African American Slave Narrative. Ed. Audery Fisch. New York: Cambridge UP, 2007. 168–85. Google Scholar

  • Soyinka, Wole. Death and the King’s Horseman. London: Methuen, 1975. Google Scholar

About the article

Published Online: 2018-06-05

Published in Print: 2018-06-04


Citation Information: arcadia, Volume 53, Issue 1, Pages 89–104, ISSN (Online) 1613-0642, ISSN (Print) 0003-7982, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/arcadia-2018-0002.

Export Citation

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston.Get Permission

Comments (0)

Please log in or register to comment.
Log in