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Unformatted text preview: I. Herman Melville’s America I. Herman Melville’s America 18191891 18191891 Lemuel Shaw, 17811861 Lemuel Shaw, 17811861 Fugitive Slave Law of 1850: Prohibited residents or officials in Northern (non slave) states from obstructing the recapture of fugitive slaves. With this law, the recovery of escaped slaves became a federal issue, overruling dissenting states and making slavery a clearly “national” institution. “What I feel most moved to write, that is banned, it will not pay. Yet, altogether, write the other way I cannot. So the product is a final hash, and all my books are botches.” Melville in letter to Nathaniel Hawthorne, June 1851 II. Revolution as Theater II. Revolution as Theater This is some mulish mutineer, thought Captain Delano, This is some mulish mutineer, thought Captain Delano, surveying, not without a mixture of admiration, the colossal form of the Negro. “See, he awaits your question, master,” said the servant. Thus reminded, Don Benito, nervously averting his glance, as if shunning, by anticipation, some rebellious response, in a disconcerted voice, thus spoke: “Atufal, will you ask pardon now?” The black was silent. “Again, master,” murmured the servant, with bitter upbraiding eyeing his countryman, “Again, master; he will bend to master yet.” “Answer,” said Don Benito, still averting his glance, “say but the one word pardon, and your chains shall be off.” Upon this, the black, slowly raising both arms, let them lifelessly fall, his links clanking, his head bowed; as much as to say, “no, I am content.” (READER 9) III. The “Nature” of Race III. The “Nature” of Race
"This unfortunate difference of color, and perhaps of faculty, is a powerful obstacle to the emancipation of these people." Thomas Jefferson: Notes on Virginia Q.XIV, 1782. ME 2:201 IV. Nature as Escape from History IV. Nature as Escape from History “What, I, Amasa Delano—Jack of the Beach, as they called me when a lad—I, Amasa; the same that, ducksatchel in hand, used to paddle along the waterside to the schoolhouse made from the old hulk;I, little Jack of the Beach, that used to go berrying with cousin Nat and the rest; I to be murdered here at the ends of the earth, on board a haunted pirateship by a horrible Spaniard?—Too nonsensical to think of! Who would murder Amasa Delano? His conscience is clean.” (READER 16) Santo Domingo, Spanish colony on Island of Santo Domingo, Spanish colony on Island of Hispaniola, “founded” 1492 by Christopher Columbus “But the past is passed; why moralize upon it? Forget it. See, yon bright sun has forgotten it all, and the blue sea, and the blue sky; these have turned over new leaves.” “Because they have no memory,” [Cereno] dejectedly replied; “because they are not human.” … “You are saved,” cried Captain Delano, more and more astonished and pained; “you are saved; what has cast such a shadow upon you?” “The negro.” (READER, 36) ...
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- Fall '09
- American Literature