Habesha Discourse in Johnson’s Sources for <i>Rasselas</i>

Wendy Laura Belcher

in Abyssinia's Samuel Johnson

Published in print May 2012 | ISBN: 9780199793211
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199949700 | DOI:
Habesha Discourse in Johnson’s Sources for Rasselas

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In this chapter and the next, the purpose is not to curtail any of the ongoing scholarly discussions of Rasselas. Rather, the purpose is to lay next to them a reading of Rasselas as, paradoxically and impossibly, a Habesha text. This chapter argues that the text is partly animated by Habesha discourse and therefore is partly African. Positing Rasselas as an energumen, a text through which others speak, is not a way to diminish Rasselas, but to open up new ways of reading it, readings that focus on the extraordinary connections this text has to other traditions, in particular African discourse and self-representations.

Keywords: Ethiopian discourse; Ethiopian nobles; Rasselas

Chapter.  12495 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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