The Future Perfect King: Olaudah Equiano and the Poetics of Experience

in On Lingering and Being Last

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print October 2008 | ISBN: 9780823229406
Published online September 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780823240982 | DOI:
The Future Perfect King: Olaudah Equiano and the Poetics of Experience

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The influence of Behn's hero on subsequent European literature — especially in England and in France — has long been recognized. But what is its specificity? After all, as Barry Weller has pointed out, the “conjunction of noble birth and social abjection dates back at least as far as Homer.” Numerous other African nobles and royal slaves followed in Oroonoko's wake, whose stories were meant to affirm an older, romance-like recognition — all the more powerful for being cross-racial — of certain essential character traits associated with “noble” status. It is an odd fact that despite Oroonoko's equivocal message about both slavery and Christianity, “the historical fate of the text was emancipationist” (Weller 68). It is in the context of the Christian emancipationist discourse of the latter eighteenth century that the most profound implications of Behn's treatment of race and sovereignty are revealed and extended.

Keywords: nobles; slavery; Christianity; Oroonoko; emancipationist; race; sovereignty

Chapter.  12089 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (1500 to 1800)

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