Chapter

Captain Thistlewood's Jacobite: Reading the Caribbean in Scotland's Historiography of Slavery

Joseph Jackson

in Scottish Literature and Postcolonial Literature

Published by Edinburgh University Press

Published in print June 2011 | ISBN: 9780748637744
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780748652143 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.3366/edinburgh/9780748637744.003.0018
Captain Thistlewood's Jacobite: Reading the Caribbean in Scotland's Historiography of Slavery

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This chapter discusses the interpretive ambit of James Robertson's Joseph Knight, reading it alongside another prominent text in postcolonial ‘slave fiction’, David Dabydeen's A Harlot's Progress. As in Joseph Knight, the act of writing history in A Harlot's Progress is constructed as a site of postcolonial contestation, where the political and financial power of Pringle the master attempts to exert leverage over Mungo the slave, whose own narrative is his only source of personal power. The short concluding chapter of Joseph Knight, in which Knight finally focalises, presents a contradiction to the meticulous historicising in the rest of the novel. Experimental and explorative novels such as Joseph Knight and A Harlot's Progress provide demanding, unsettling reformulations of history, initiating a precipitous departure from traditions of historical fiction, and casting doubt over the veracity and legitimacy of settled forms of history in favour of polyphonic narrative.

Keywords: James Robertson; Joseph Knight; David Dabydeen; A Harlot's Progress; Mungo; Pringle; slave fiction

Chapter.  5622 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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