Truth Stranger Than Fiction: Race, Realism, and the U.S. by Augusta Rohrbach

By Augusta Rohrbach

Augusta Rohrbach broadens our knowing of the yank literary culture through exhibiting how African American literature and tradition enormously prompted the advance of realism. Rohrbach lines the impacts of the slave narratives—such because the use of authenticating information, in addition to dialect, and a frank therapy of the human body—in writings by means of Howells, Wharton, and others, and explores questions about the moving dating among literature and tradition within the US from 1830-1930. starting with the query, “How may perhaps slave narratives—heralded because the first indigenous literature by way of Theodore Parker—have inspired the improvement of yank Literature?” Rohrbach develops connections among an rising literary market, the increase of the pro author, and literary realism.

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Each of the twelve books mentioned, though part of the conglomerate concept of “popular book,” is individuated through the distinction of font. Typically, a promotional sentence or phrase follows up each title. Both characteristics were an advance over the sample advertisement of 1851; each title is distinguished from the next by type face and appears with a discrete pitch for its worthiness, a voucher for its popularity, or a suggestion for its use. 10 Advertisement from The Liberator, 13 Jan 1854.

Eldridge is a free black—not a slave—and thus her books offer us the exception that proves the rule. Her use of publishing as a means of gaining revenue and the inclusion of a portrait to support the enterprise makes a convincing case for race as a significant market lure. The fluid lines of her portrait depict her within the context of her need to make a living. Holding a long-handled broom rather daintily, she appears ready and able to do the work that buying her narrative will enable. Opportunity, in other words, for a black author, can be measured through book sales.

First of all, they offered one of many proofs that the author was REAL and in this case that means: really black. Yet portraits were no guarantee of textual authenticity. 13 But, at the same time, such portraits also help heighten the effect of the humanitarian narrative put forward by the text by invoking individual identity. Locating the author as a physical body helps foster the reader empathy unfolding text requires. In order to be successful, these texts must identify the author as a subject whose suffering is not just plausible (as in the fictional setting) but real.

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