Habesha Discourse and Johnson’s <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 and Johnson’s Rasselas

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Why is Rasselas so strange? It is the argument of this chapter that this is so at least partly because of Samuel Johnson’s strange relationship with the literature about the Habesha. While, of course, Rasselas does appropriate and misrepresent the Habesha, it is also an instance of the power of Africandiscourse to co-constitute the representations of the English canon. In the previous chapters have explored loaned words and images from the Habesha that appeared in Johnson’s fiction. In unpacking the relationship of Rasselas to Johnson’s reading about the Habesha, however, this chapter focuses on the more profound influences onRasselas of Habesha discourse.

Keywords: Ethiopian discourse; Rasselas; the astronomer; the Nile

Chapter.  17645 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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