Black Male Fiction and the Legacy of Caliban by James W. Coleman

By James W. Coleman

With The Tempest's Caliban, Shakespeare created an archetype within the smooth period depicting black males as slaves and savages who threaten civilization. As modern black male fiction writers have attempted to loose their topics and themselves from this legacy to inform a narrative of liberation, they generally unconsciously retell the tale, making their heroes into modern day Calibans. Coleman analyzes the trendy and postmodern novels of John Edgar Wideman, Clarence significant, Charles Johnson, William Melvin Kelley, Trey Ellis, David Bradley, and Wesley Brown. He strains the Caliban legacy to early literary affects, essentially Ralph Ellison, after which deftly demonstrates its modern manifestations. This enticing examine demanding situations those that argue for the releasing probabilities of the postmodern narrative, as Coleman finds the pervasiveness and impact of Calibanic discourse. on the center of James Coleman's examine is the perceived historical past of the black male in Western tradition and the normal racist stereotypes indigenous to the language. Calibanic discourse, Coleman argues, so deeply and subconsciously impacts the texts of black male writers that they're not able to put off the oppression inherent during this discourse. Coleman desires to swap the notion of black male writers' fight with oppression by means of displaying that it truly is their distinct fight with language. Black Male Fiction and the Legacy of Caliban is the 1st publication to research a considerable physique of black male fiction from a important standpoint.

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Extra info for Black Male Fiction and the Legacy of Caliban

Sample text

Which makes you kind of abstract in the first place. . In the second place, you got no ties. . You’re a floater. People begin to see you that way. Which amounts to not seeing you at all. Invisible. Prince of the air. . You talk to yourself and ain’t nobody answering but you. Now that’s about as abstract as you can get. Put it all together and what you have is a situation where you can be whoever you want to be whenever you turn up in a new place. You are an abstract person, so you can test your abstract feelings.

The loss of Simba to the fire is also an integral part of Cudjoe’s loss, but it is a loss for which Cudjoe understands the causes and for which he does not take primary responsibility. Cudjoe understands the primary role of white oppression and its effect on Simba and black people: “He’ll tell Margaret Jones [victim of the fire and his source of information] we’re all in this together. That he was lost but now he’s found” (22). Cudjoe feels that he has a duty to black people and a special duty to find black male brothers and sons, like Simba, lost in the holocaust of white oppression.

Run, Run. Never look back. A cry from the deepest recess of him, the part nurtured in forest gloom when he dangled from a tree by a three-toed claw. . Run. From the night hawk, the bear, the slithering lizard, the coiled snake. Run. Run. Run. (69–70) Cudjoe remains unconscious of his own internalization of the Calibanic legacy, and he therefore never understands it well enough to free himself. He tries to rewrite and revise The Tempest in part 2, but in part 1 he fails to perceive that The Tempest’s hegemonic legacy victimizes him.

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