Caryl Phillips’s Cambridge:
Ironical (Dis)empowerment?

Sylvie Chavanelle, Joigny, France

The end of Caryl Phillips’s novel Cambridge (1991) leaves the reader somewhat in the lurch.[1] Who is the hero or heroine? Cambridge, the enlightened slave who gets hanged because of racial prejudice, or Emily, the wealthy puritan Englishwoman who dies in an alien world? Flirting with the idea that literature can partly redress the injustices of history by giving a narrative boost to the downtrodden, the novel seems to succeed, through functional irony, in divesting the dominant and dominating white Emily of her authority for the benefit of the oppressed black man.

Phillips’s tour de force consists in juxtaposing the journal of a young upperclass woman visiting her father’s West Indian plantation with the account of an African transported to England via the Carolinas, converted to Christianity and emancipated, then bizarrely captured on his missionary voyage to Africa, deported a second time as a slave to a Caribbean island, and later charged with murder. If read separately, the two narratives would have a lesser impact; placed side by side, they take on a new dimension. They become the two facets of a system that durably affected the relations between Westerners and Africans—slavery. By staging at the fictional level a confrontation which never occurs in the plot where the two characters barely communicate, the writer urges us to approach the two stories as reverberations of each other, refracting or diffracting various elements. The course of the hero’s and heroine’s lives become bound in a mutually reinforcing way, and the novel hints at how wide apart and how close the two characters are, how interwoven their destinies.

This fictive exchange triggers a dialectic between the two main chapters of the novel. Their disjunction mirrors the chasm separating the two protagonists. Each part responds to the other. Symmetry (or dissymmetry) becomes one of the springs of the fictional game set up to bring together or contrast two protagonists separated by gender, class, and ethnicity, but sharing common points. Both are exiles, sailing between continents, and both engage in the same activity—writing—even if the differences between their experiences are glaring. She chooses to leave her country, he is deported; she writes to inform her father about his estate and to pour out her feelings once her confidante has passed away, whereas Cambridge has to justify his murderous act by expatiating on his misfortunes. Both write to make up for a disenchanting reality and a situational weakness.

In their respective texts, some details are pregnant with irony. The two characters use the same words to describe their apprehension on arriving in terra incognita. Cambridge “had arrived at the edge of the known world” (136), where he says: “None among us dared imagine what inhospitable regions lay beyond the waters” (136-37); Emily enters “a dark tropical unknown” with apprehension, “breaking the last remaining link with a past that I understood” (22). Although her voyage can hardly compare with the Middle Passage, where slaves are “tightly chained” (138) or lie on a board (139), she notices straps of rope attached to each bed to “lash [the passengers] in” (8) in case of rough weather. The use of the word “lash” is one instance of the ironical correspondences with which the writer plays. The first black children Emily encounters, she takes for “a parcel of monkeys” (24); the first impression Cambridge has of the English sailors who deported him from Africa is that they are like animals, “long-haired spirits crouching feverishly” (135), “their English talk resembled nothing more civilized than the manic chatter of baboons” (135). They look just as quaint as the blacks appear to Emily: “men of no color, with their loose hair and decayed teeth, … overly fond of flesh” (135); Cambridge fears being “devoured” (136) or “being torn limb from limb” (136) by these savages (a word that Emily also uses, but for blacks). In this respect, his opinions concur with those of Emily; like her, he finds the crew “vulgar” (140), speaking a “blasphemous language” (157). Like her, he later denounces the immorality of the British clergy in the West Indies. Such recurrences enable us to gauge the truth. Cambridge’s comment that no poor Englishman “would willingly exchange his status for the life of a West Indian slave,” for “What freeman would resign his liberty for the bondage of the dog or horse?” (150) is an ironical reply to Emily’s ludicrous remark: “If I were to be asked if I should enter life anew as an English labourer or a West Indian slave I should have no hesitation in opting for the latter” (42).

The parallels in the content are enhanced by the parallelism in form. Phillips imitates the journal and the slave narrative, which both belong to the autobiographical genre even if they do not quite meet the criteria of autobiography as defined by Lejeune.[2] They are nevertheless first-person or “personal” narratives, Emily’s text being closer to the diary or the journey chronicle and Cambridge’s more retrospective. By reproducing these historically dated narratives, Phillips highlights the analogy between the journal written by whites and the black slave narrative, popular in the nineteenth century. One may argue that this slave narrative is not a “real” one, published before or after the American Civil War by a living slave or ex-slave. But since some slave narratives were fabricated from real-life experiences in order to further the abolitionist cause, Phillips is only doing what many whites took the liberty to do, that is, edit or manipulate somebody’s report for a definite purpose.[3] At any rate, the relation between fiction and reality is always tricky in the slave narrative, no less than in the autobiography, where the imaginative mind inevitably recreates. Cambridge’s text is a variation on the slave narrative, leaving aside the whole paraphernalia authenticating the events.[4] The hero, like a “real” slave, means to testify; in keeping with the convention, he describes his youth, his life in England, his voyages and servitude in the Caribbean, but he is not content with reporting the facts,[5] for he is able to analyze, to pass judgment, to criticize vehemently blacks and whites alike. Though his narrative includes many of the characteristics of traditional slave narratives, it is not meant to persuade a white audience of the inequity of slavery.

The time gap and the recourse to outmoded genres naturally affect the reception of the text. The twentieth-century reader does not need to be convinced of the ignominy of human bondage but may be more sensitive to the prevalence of racism between blacks and whites. What may cause some discomfort, though, is the reconstruction of the slave narrative. Actually, the semantic and formal aspects of the text acquire a greater visibility; it is a given that nineteenth-century authors would abide by certain rules.

Behind the rhetorical device which polarizes the two trajectories, setting off their similarities and dissimilarities, lies another sleight of hand. By all appearances, Emily’s story is the prominent one, as it covers 121 pages against 34 for Cambridge’s; but, ironically, power is so redistributed, or reversed, that Cambridge ends up being on an equal footing with Emily, at least as a narratorial voice (since as a character within the plot he is hardly granted the opportunity to speak). How can one “of the despised complexion” (136), scornfully called Araby or Mungo (136) and relegated to the bottom of the social ladder, throw an affluent, cultivated white woman off her pedestal?

Several ironical elements converge to renegotiate a balance of forces and give the same credence to Cambridge’s views. First, Emily’s identity as signaled by her name is trampled and partly erased in a kind of counterbalancing move: she remains anonymous until the last page of the first chapter when she gives her Christian name, just before her death. As for her surname, “Cartwright,” it is not mentioned before the very end of the novel. She is thus divested of her identity, in the same way as Cambridge was robbed of his original name “Olumide,” for the British-sounding “Thomas” or “Tom,” “David Henderson,” and later “Cambridge.”

Second, Cambridge’s account comes after pages, or years, of silence—a secrecy which maintains suspense. The first chapter supplies scant information about the slave, reflecting the little regard the white woman pays to him (Cambridge attests: “she adopted a not altogether unsurprising posture of social superiority driven home by the alabaster in her complexion,” 164). We only know that he is physically strong; Emily calls him “the impressive black Hercules” (58) or “the negro Hercules” (62), lending him a mythological and mythical stature, confirmed by the word “ancient” (119). She asserts reluctantly that he is “intelligent” (128; Phillips’s emphasis). His perfect English arouses her contempt: it is “highly fanciful” (92) and “of a lunatic precision” (120). Cambridge reads the Bible and his fellow bondsmen stand in awe of him. But the reason for his whipping is not given; did he refuse to “collaborate” with Mr. Brown (he turned down the position of Head-Driver)? In addition, he feebly denies stealing meat and he tries to molest Brown. At long last, after being talked about, often in vigorous words—”recalcitrant” (119), “overconfident,” and with “about his gaze an unsound quality” (120)—after being muffled for so long, Cambridge is given the floor, as in a trial, such as the one that never took place, which would have given him the opportunity to rebut the false accusation of plundering and to explain his motive for murdering the overseer. Then his narrative sounds like a plea made by a defendant; it begins with a direct address to the listener/reader: “Pardon the liberty I take in unburdening myself … I humbly beg that those of my dear England, Africans of my own complexion, and creoles of both aspects, might bear with me as I attempt to release from within my person the nature of my extraordinary circumstances” (133). His almost apologetic tone, unobtrusive and polite, ingratiates him to us, all the more so as he is going to be “dispatched” without knowing what awaits him.

Only in fiction does he get a chance to have a riposte, if not revenge. Because he has a sound command of English and is acquainted with the culture and psychology of the whites, because he has read the Scriptures and adopted the Western ways, and because he is clever enough to discriminate between individuals, black or white, he makes his case quite convincingly and wins us over.

If he attracts our sympathy as the victim of injustice, it does not imply that victimization and sentimentalism are key factors in our perception of the character. Our response is also conditioned by the author’s choice of “Cambridge” for the title—a title which may at first (mis)lead us to anticipate a link with the renowned English center of learning or to question the connection of the name with the first chapter (which gives no clue as to the origin of “Cambridge”), when in fact the fortuitous name was arbitrarily assigned to a slave deprived of his name. In other words, the author’s ironic twist metes out a new kind of justice: the metonymic function of the title confers authority to the underdog, restoring his pride and dignity by crystallizing our attention around him.

In the second chapter, Cambridge’s narrative voice becomes “narratorial,” according to Chambers’s fine distinction: it does not only convey facts, it is also endowed with authority.[6] His eloquence raises Cambridge to the level of his colonial masters. Telling his story is for him the only means of achieving power, albeit relative power. This access to power operates on the condition that we dissociate Cambridge the bondsman chastised to death from Cambridge the storyteller who controls the narrative. His authority emanates both from his character and his production. Not only does he impart information about himself and the others, but he produces a discourse. He awakens our interest and our respect, he implicates us.

The consequence is that Emily’s voice is stifled, but only partly. Though she, like Cambridge, is a type borrowed from nineteenth-century literature, she also stands out as a unique individual, with her own background and history. Like Cambridge, she has a claim to our compassion. She may be the stereotypical English female aristocrat; she is also fleshed out as a strong-willed girl brought up by a Spanish maid after the untimely death of her mother, bent upon dodging the yoke of domesticity which her estranged father, prone to drinking, gambling, and chasing women, wants to impose on her. As to Cambridge, he may embody the traditional image of the slave or ex-slave, staunchly religious and protesting against servitude; he has a peculiar itinerary distinct from that of Olaudah Equiano, or Frederick Douglass, or Mary Prince. He was sent to Britain, not America; he met free blacks in the streets of London; he had a good master who granted him freedom and the opportunity to learn how to read and write; he could trust a charitable benefactress; he married a white servant. He went through severe mishaps, among them the death of his wife and child, and the worst setback, his irrevocable reenslavement during his journey to Africa.

All in all, Emily’s and Cambridge’s stories are given equal credit. Moreover, a first-person narrative about oneself (homodiegetic in Genette’s narratological terms[7]) generally induces the reader to identify with the subject of the enunciation. The very short third chapter, which reads like a newspaper article, presents such a mystifying vantage point—caricaturing Mr. Brown as the good man and Cambridge as the evil one—that it does not fundamentally modify our judgment, even if it dissipates the uncertainty about Christiania’s liaison with Brown and introduces the slightly disquieting notion of Cambridge’s madness.

Our overall apprehension of events is grounded on the two principal chapters, and Phillips’s deft stroke consists in turning the tables at the very moment when we are getting sympathetic to Emily and in using Cambridge’s story as a counterpoise to Emily’s partial version of facts. This strategy underscores the lacunae as well as the echoes in the two accounts. For example, Emily’s opinion of Mr. Brown fluctuates, whereas Cambridge maintains that he is a “bullying brute” (161). After doubt has been sown in the first chapter about Cambridge’s honor, it is cleared in the second: his beating was the vengeance of a white boy. Mr. Wilson, who is sketchily drawn by Emily as an almost shady personality, is considered a “tolerably decent man” (161) by Cambridge, who has dealt with him directly. However, mystery surrounds Christiania: Emily suspects the white overseer of satisfying his sexual desires with this black woman; Cambridge does not understand why Brown accepts her at his table, and cannot imagine his wife willing to have intercourse with him. Another fact disclosed by Cambridge, Brown’s “obsession” (164) with Emily, is brushed aside in the third chapter, and the matter is never resolved. The two monologues thus engage in a dialogue, hinting at the necessity of confronting different versions in order to form a comprehensive image of the situation.

Language is another means for Phillips to return a sense of justice to the abused; by effacing any marked linguistic individuation between the two protagonists, he works out a rapprochement, putting the self-made Cambridge on a par with Emily.

It is striking indeed that the patterns peculiar to Emily’s speech are found in Cambridge’s. His expression is as formal as Emily’s, and his fluency, due to his training as a preacher and to his own gifts, is a challenge to the whites’ prejudices against Africans. He makes carefully rounded sentences, such as “my master convened an audience with me at which he expounded upon the nature of common opinions pertaining to such a liaison” (145) and “I would often console myself by pouring out my complaints to the very trees and bushes which masked the paths and trails along which we laboured” (136). His elevated speech abounds in inversions—evidence of his education: “Should they exhaust their supplies” (135), “should my idle cuffing cause to swell into a powerful signal of displeasure” (141). If his language is characterized by structures contemporary with his time—“No longer was I to tarry in my Africa” (134), “and all that proceeds thereof” (136)—the use of sophisticated words, often of Latin origin, which are tokens of good breeding and taste, testifies to a solid culture: “I received verification of the truth of my position” (140); “furnished with only a board upon which to extend my ulcerated limbs, I waited in trepidation” (139); “My pining was eventually interrupted by one of my own tint, clad in their livery” (139). What would sound attributable to rank and snobbishness in the mouth of an aristocrat becomes a sign of erudition under Cambridge’s pen: “my divers addresses were often prefaced with exempla of this taxing discrepancy” (147); “Once below our bodies received a salutation of supreme loathsomeness in the form of a fetor, which affected a manifold increase in the constant grieving and pining which echoed among we brethren” (137). Cambridge excels at expressing himself in binaries: “With much rough handling and unnecessary ferocity” (137); “tightly chained and closely guarded” (138); “apprehended by a band of brigands and bound by means of a chain to hand and foot” (134); “He displayed neither shame nor fear” (140); “Resembling neither comfort nor hell” (139); these are sometimes enriched by alliterations: “a woman of my own clime and complexion” (141); “The sea saluted our reddened and miserable hearts, and pain assaulted our proud African hearts” (136). His desire to master the word leads him to embellish accounts and to resort to euphemisms: trees are “these outer games of nature” (136); he could not speak with his companions, “being forbidden upon pain of death to forge verbal links with my fellow-sufferers” (136); his master who died “was hastened to a heavenly world” (146); his wife lost her mind: “her mind would stray … into zones of illogicality” (164). He has a predilection for high-flown sentences: “instinct of nature suffused our being with an overwhelming love for our land and family” (137); “their fear caused an uproar the like of which I never again desire to endure” (139); “I set before my master the hope that foul discord might never approach his abode, and promised that my wife and I would withdraw should such a misfortune descend” (145). In short, his language has been contaminated by upper-class preciosity: “We had already supped at the cup of bitterness” (145); “a whiskered clerk in excess of fifty years of age” (140) dispelled the sailors’ preconceptions: he “supplied truthful information to drive out their falsehoods” (140).

Having absorbed the mannerisms of cultured British people, this black man proves Emily’s racist theory wrong: a dark skin is not synonymous with stupidity and immaturity. Cambridge is as learned and clever as Emily; in fact, he is even wittier and has a sense of humor: “Truly I was now an Englishman, albeit a little smudgy of complexion!” (147). He is more admirable because of the efforts he has made to attain this competence. The irony is that his perfect command of his master’s language does not save him from humiliation. He may outdo white brutes like Brown intellectually, but he still has to be subservient. His superiority is “visible” only in the narrative realm; here he dispossesses Emily of her supremacy, surpasses her by his intellectual and moral qualities, thereby proving worthy of being next to her in the social scale.

However, paradoxically, the risk is great that his sophistication makes him into the servant of an ideology. The African native soon belittles his former continent: “already Africa spoke only to me of a barbarity I had fortunately fled” (143); he rejects his past: “My uncivilized African demeanour began to fall from my person” (144); and he rejects his family, who are “inhabiting a warmer, but less civilized clime” (146). On the other hand, he refers to England as “fair Albion” (165), to English girls as “the fair daughters of Albion” (141), and to Emily as “the fair one” (165; Phillips’s emphasis). Is he being ironical, or has acculturation already wreaked havoc?

Cambridge was taught how to dress, to do his hair—his “wool” (140), an echo to Emily’s “woolly negro head piece” (90)—but also how to speak and think since he studied the Scriptures. Converted to Christianity, he has become more religious than most English people. His speech is replete with praise to God: “Surely the lord Almighty was with me … So great was His mercy that He took me in hand” (137); “The Almighty Lord … His everlasting love” (138); “may the Almighty bless her kind soul” (146); “with the Lord’s help” (164). When in dire straits, the Bible becomes his instrument of survival; the ironical twist is that the English have unwittingly provided him with a way of overcoming difficulties. Christianity is a source of solace and power.

Another aid for Cambridge in his battle against his so-called superiors is irony, which permeates his narrative. The word “Christian” is emphasized, sometimes italicized, so as to hammer in the message about the inhumanity of his tormentors and the sordid trade in human flesh: “These Christian inheritors of the Hebrew tradition” (134); “I … was washed towards the coast and from my rich and fertile soil by Christian Providence” (134); “The treachery of some of our petty kings, encouraged … by so-called Christian customers” (133); “Such enterprise, with Christian religion as its true companion” (134). His jeers are directed at all the hypocritical self-styled Christians. When he is not ironical, as in “These paragons of virtue who had possession of my body, if not of my soul” (134) and “What a feast of benevolent hearts we had been marooned with!” (139), he condemns them directly: “these vilest of sinners” (136); “These human flesh merchants … acted towards us with such savagery and brutal cruelty” (137); “cruel tyrants” (139). He uses the same words that the whites would ascribe to blacks: “uncivilized” (137); “vulgar” (140; 157); “These white vulgarians disgraced not only their nation, but the very name of man” (138). His statements reveal that Emily’s racist ideas were put into practice: “We … were herded … and treated with less regard than one might bestow upon the basest of animals” (137). At the same time, he underlines the humanity of his fellow-countrymen, who are ready to sacrifice themselves, like the dying man who gave him his pap.

Cambridge stresses the inconsistencies of English citizens who, like his mas­ter, in good faith decry slavery or are shocked when they hear about a girl for sale, but who forget that they made a fortune thanks to this commerce. He finds fault with English newspapers which advertise girls for sale even though slavery is outlawed. The devout Christian lady whom he admires the most and to whom he owes his religious teachings, fights slavery and racial bias but encourages him “to drive old Africa from [his] new mind” (144), for “black men were descended from Cham who was damned by God” (144) and from “the devilish dark Chus,” “father of the black and cursed Africans” (144); she christens her protégé David Henderson. The intolerance of Christians is so entrenched that even a priest refuses to bury the child of Cambridge the preacher under the pretext that he is not baptized.

Very skillfully, Cambridge employs religion to remonstrate against narrow-mindedness. Morally he is beyond reproach, he is a model of generosity. Believing in “the heart’s power over villainous minds” (138), he usually holds no grudge against his persecutors. But his moral voice smacks a little of literary con­vention, and his excessive use of religion may undermine the force of his mes­sage.

Surprisingly enough, the novel does not present two diametrically opposed narratives, which we might have expected from the tale of an all-powerful white slave-owner and an abused black slave. Both Emily and Cambridge manage to seduce us and make us partake of their predicament.[8] Being at a remove from the period of slavery, twentieth-century readers can share each character’s outlook without passion. So the novel tips from one standpoint to the other, with only a few factors weighing more heavily—the baffling thing being that Emily, in spite of her slanted opinions, endears herself with us. Why?

The intimacy established by the confessional tone of a first-person narrative immerses us in her psyche and appeals to our emotions and understanding. This delicate girl who has always lived in a cocoon ventures into an unknown universe and is left to herself after the passing away of her surrogate mother. She struggles alone in a hostile world of uncouth men and women, in an unbearably hot and humid climate, and, however smug and prudish, she is not devoid of intelligence and psychological insight. She evinces a great clairvoyance concerning the socioeconomic conditions and the human relations on the island. She is aware that she might threaten the status quo and confesses she has “so much still to learn” (127). She is able to distance herself, and although she believes in the superiority of Europeans, she realizes that the Englishmen who emigrate to the colonies are often the scum of society. By turns naïve or perspicacious, senti­mental or obstinate, she is surrounded by racist, ignorant people and does her best to resist them. Her bigotry, her conservatism, and her race essentialism (“A white skin would appear passport enough to a life of privilege,” 72), are largely due to the principles inculcated by her class and religion.

Naturally she is a prey to contradictions, among which the most unsettling is her confusion regarding slavery. On the one hand she claims to support abolitionism and plans to give lectures when she returns to England, on the other she argues that she will write a pamphlet as “a reply to the lobby who … would have us believe slavery is nothing more than an abominable evil” (86). Another matter for wonder is that, despite her fears and criticisms, she develops a fondness for the island and contemplates staying longer. Incidentally, this attraction for the Caribbean matches Cambridge’s affection for England.

In point of fact Phillips creates two characters who at first seem poles apart on the social and racial spectrum but whose points of view and routes intersect. Both turn out to be more open-minded than those around them; they make a step toward understanding the Other and strive to discriminate between good and bad people. In the same way as Emily resents the boorishness of her fellow-citizens in the West Indies, Cambridge blames black people in England for their loose morals or despicable behavior. He thinks the “fop of Bristol” (151) or the harlots, vagabonds, and street entertainers give a paltry image of blacks. But is it not the fault of the rich whites who hire a black person as a “fashionable append­age” (142) or buy negro children “for amusement like parrots or monkeys” (151)? Ironically, it behooves a black man to educate the “fool[s] of weak intellect” (150) who hierarchize races.

The ultimate irony is that both Emily and Cambridge die at the end of the novel, and both die alone, as if their destinies were welded. Do these deaths spell the defeat of lucidity and the triumph of the imperialist ideology, corroborated by the eviction of the liberal overseer, Mr. Wilson? Even though Emily’s image wavers (she is far from being a paragon of tolerance), her death, which represents her maladaptation to this new world, foreshadows the end of the slave system (her father decides to sell the plantation). Cambridge’s hanging insinuates that a single person could not combat ignorance. Neither Emily nor Cambridge could escape the trap of the repressive colonial system.

With this final ploy, Caryl Phillips connects the initially divergent odysseys of the affluent Western woman and the destitute African slave so that they become indissociable. Her racial and social status may give Emily the ascendancy; Cambridge vanquishes through language. Barred from power because of his skin color, he rises above the historical, social, and cultural determinism by taking over the narration and earning the right to speak and write. His centrality eclipses her “natural” supremacy.

This posthumous victory is possible thanks to the cultural distance generated by the historical context, which impels the modern reader to view the slave’s plight favorably, and thanks to the literary medium, which shifts rhetorical control into the hands of Cambridge and allows him to measure up to the whites. Nonetheless, the role of the written text is questionable. As a disseminator of cultural models, it may be an ideological tool which contributes to the socializing and integration of individuals, or a more insidious means of subverting social relations. Does Cambridge incarnate the fusion of two cultures, or is he a copier of patterns? It seems that the tension between his two possible identities is ignored and that his desire to emulate the British overrides his wish to preserve his African heritage.


[1] Caryl Phillips, Cambridge (London: Bloomsbury, 1991). Subsequent references cited in the text are to this edition.
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[2] Philippe Lejeune, Le pacte autobiographique (Paris: Seuil, 1975) 14, claims that autobiography is a “retrospective prose narrative made by a real person about his or her own life, stressing individuality, personal background and character.” In the canonic autobiographic form, the author is the narrator who is also a character; in the novel, the narrator’s identity is different from the author’s.
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[3] Historians have questioned the reliability of slave narratives. Antebellum narratives were more likely to have been dictated to or written by a white person, and in such cases the authors were more interested in abolitionist propaganda than in factual accuracy. Autobiographies written after the Civil War tended to be more “authentic.” John W. Blassingame discusses this in “Using the Testimony of Ex-slaves: Approaches and Problems,” The Slave’s Narrative, ed. Charles T. Davis and Henry Louis Gates Jr. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1985).
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[4] In The Slave’s Narrative, several essays deal with the specific features of slave narratives, letters, prefaces, engraved portraits, testimonials, epigraphs, bills of sale, newspaper items, speeches, poems, etc., which confirmed the veracity of the accounts and appealed for material or moral support. See in particular James Olney, “‘I Was Born’: Slave Narratives, Their Status as Autobiography and as Literature” (148) and Robert B. Stepto, “I Rose and Found My Voice: Narration, Authentication, and Authorial Control in Four Slave Narratives” (225).
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[5] Susan Willis, “Crushed Geraniums: Juan Francisco Manzano and the Language of Slavery” (The Slave’s Narrative, 202), dwells on the “perspectival limitations” of most slave narratives due to the “partial understanding” of his situation by the narrator.
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[6] Ross Chambers, Story and Situation: Narrative Seduction and the Power of Fiction (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1984) 51 and 207.
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[7] Gérard Genette uses “homodiegetic” when the narrator is present as a character in the story he relates. Fiction and Diction, trans. Catherine Porter (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993) 33-34.
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[8] See Chambers, chapter III, about narratorial authority and seduction, where he demonstrates that “narrative authority is the outcome of seduction” (212).
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