By Helena Woodard
The eighteenth century was once a time of serious cultural swap in Britain. It was once a interval marked by way of expeditions to the hot global, Africa, and the Orient, and those voyages have been mirrored within the commute literature of the period. It used to be additionally a interval during which seventeenth-century empiricism and the clinical procedure turned dominant, and during which society turned more and more secular. primary to the eighteenth-century worldview used to be the thought of the nice Chain of Being, within which all creatures and their author stood in a hierarchical dating with each other. The years from 1660 to 1833 witnessed either Britain's participation in slavery and the appropriation of the good Chain of Being by means of social anthropologists and political leaders. With the increase of the slave exchange, blacks have been delivered to Britain opposed to their will, the place they have been enslaved. even as, intellectuals of the interval attempted to put those slaves in the hierarchical body supplied through the nice Chain of Being.
The presence of slavery in Britain aroused a lot debate between blacks and whites alike, and the literature of the eighteenth century displays that discuss. This publication examines representations of blacks in eighteenth-century British literature to light up the discussions approximately race in the course of that interval. the amount starts off with a dialogue of Alexander Pope's popularization of the nice Chain of Being in his Essay on Man, which argued the common rating of humanity and which supplied an highbrow starting place for slavery. It then examines the works of a number of white canonical writers, together with Defoe, Addison and Steele, quick, and Sterne, to determine how blacks are portrayed of their works. the quantity additionally examines works via African-British writers, resembling James Albert Ukawsaw Gronniosaw and Quobna Ottobah Cugoano, who disclose exclusionary practices between a few theologians; Ignatius Sancho, whose Letters express how slaves have been taught to be thankful, and the way these missing gratitude have been thought of inhuman; and Olaudah Equiano, who exhibits how racial hierarchies functionality as a literary trope, really in go back and forth literature. the ultimate bankruptcy, on The background of Mary Prince, examines the interplay of race and gender.
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Extra info for African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century: The Politics of Race and Reason (Contributions to the Study of World Literature)
The World's Great Classics Colonial Press version of Bacon's famous observation reads, "It is no wonder that the discovery and advancement of arts hath made no greater progress, when the art of inventing and discovering the sciences remains hitherto unknown" (Book 5. ch. 2, 135). Bacon's claims that certain inventions made possible new geographical discoveries and his elevation of certain inventions to the status of "art" are mediated by the political economies of conquest and slavery. For Bacon, invention as art is metaphorical; it includes the arts and sciences, even speech or rhetoric.
Yet Blumenbach believed that his own revisions of outmoded data were more advanced than those of his predecessors. While he recognized no intellectual differences among categories of individuals of varying races, Blumenbach still argued that Europeans were the original divine creations. In observations on the genealogical impact of theories of racial hierarchies, Stephen Gould posits that the shift from a geographic to a hierarchical ordering of human diversity must stand as one of the most fateful transitions in the history of Western science—for what, 18 African-British Writings in the Eighteenth Century short of railroads and nuclear bombs, has had more practical impact, in this case almost entirely negative, upon our collective lives?
Pope's claims that individual personal sacrifices work for the good of the whole and that evil misunderstood by humanity can translate into universal good clash with specific situations as complex and tragic as slavery. When racial identity is itself considered a precondition to an individual's qualifications for moral consideration, a crisis of interpretation develops. Two vastly contrasting causes—moral and physical—are given in order to explain the differences in individuals' behavior. In "Of National Characters," perhaps the best documented pronouncement on race to have been published in the Enlightenment, Hume illuminates these complexities.