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Surveying the American TropicsA Literary Geography from New York to Rio$
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Maria Cristina Fumagalli, Peter Hulme, Owen Robinson, and Lesley Wylie

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781846318900

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781846318900.001.0001

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Black Jacobins and New World Mediterraneans

Black Jacobins and New World Mediterraneans

(p.159) Black Jacobins and New World Mediterraneans
Surveying the American Tropics

Susan Gillman

Liverpool University Press

Classics of revisionist historiography published only three years apart, W. E. B. Du Bois's Black Reconstruction (1935) and C. L. R. James's Black Jacobins (1938) court what Benedict Anderson call the “spectres of comparison” that overshadow their fields of history. Susan Gillman discusses how both titles signal their aim to produce a corrective historical narrative, named as “black.” Just a few years later, in the 1940s, Cuban novelist Alejo Carpentier coined his “New World Mediterranean,” another implicitly comparative formula that was key to his work on Haiti as a historical object, locating the Haitian Revolution in the context of pre-revolutionary Cuba and an Americas legacy of slave revolt. As three models of comparative studies by prominent New World/American intellectuals, how do they manage both to raise and exorcise the spectres of comparison± The chapter focuses on the textual history of Black Jacobins, both a single celebrated work by James, a cluster of different editions, prefaces and appendices, a play and set of lectures, as well as a wider circle, a text-network that takes in Du Bois and Carpentier, among others. The chapter concludes by speculating on the uses of adaptation for comparative studies.

Keywords:   C.L.R. James, Adaptation, Black, Comparison, Haitian Revolution, Mediterranean, slave revolt, text-network

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