Yulia L. Sapozhnikova
Smolensk State University
Sapozhnikova Y.L. The development of traditions of slave narratives in the novel “The Underground Railroad” by Arch Colson Chipp Whitehead. Vestnik of Kostroma State University, 2022, vol. 28, № 4, pp. 63–69. (In Russ.). https://doi.org/10.34216/1998-0817-2022-28-4-63-69
DOI: https://doi.org/10.34216/1998-0817-2022-28-4-63-69
УДК: 821(73).09”20”
Publish date: 2022-12-05
Annotation: The novel “The Underground Railroad” by Arch Colson Chipp Whitehead relates about the times of slavery. On the one hand, the author tries to be faithful to known facts, relying for this on verified sources (archives) and precedent texts (slave narratives). The article provides a comparative analysis of this work and the most famous slave narratives (those by Frederick Douglass and Harriet Ann Jacobs). As a result of the analysis, parallels between them are revealed not only at the level of certain plot elements, but also at the level of lexical means. In addition, it demonstrates how Colson Whitehead uses metaphors from the animal world typical of the classical genre and words from the thematic field “Things” to plausibly show slavery and its destructive impact on slaves. But, on the other hand, the novel under consideration reveals elements of fiction and violations of chronology, what does not correspond to the peculiarities of the narrative structure of classical texts. The article also analyzes those topics that become central to Colson Whitehead’s novel and that the first black writers, for many reasons, could not introduce into their texts – first of all, this refers to the problem of appropriating the identity of the ethnic group and a broad interpretation of the concept of “freedom”. Through the consideration of these issues and reliance on the collective experience of African Americans, the writer creates undoubted links between the described events of the distant past and the situation in modern America. He reminds of the need for dialogue and the search for a common path to the America described by the Founding Fathers in the Declaration of Independence.
Keywords: African American literature, novel “Underground Railroad” by Arch Colson Chipp Whitehead, slavery, slave narratives, Frederick Douglass, Harriet Jacobs, identity, notion of “freedom”.
Literature list: Morozova I.V. Kollektivnaya pamyat v romane Colson’a Whitehead’a «Podzemnaya zheleznaya doroga» [Collective memory in the novel “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead]. Vestnik Udmurtskogo universiteta. Seriya: Istoriya i filologiya [Bulletin of the Udmurtiya University. Series: History and Philology], 2018, vol. 28, № 5, pp. 736–741. (In Russ.) Sapozhnikova Yu.L. Kategoriya identichnosti kak khudozhestvennaya dominanta v afro-amerikanskikh klassicheskikh i novykh istoriyakh rabov (XIX–XXI vv.): dis. … dokt. filol. nauk [The category of identity as an artistic predominant element in African American slave and neoslave narratives (19th–21st centuries): DSc thesis]. Ivanovo, 2015, 457 p. (In Russ.). Whitehead C. Podzemnaya zheleznaya doroga [The Underground Railroad]. Moscow, AST Publ., CORPUS Publ., 2019, 416 p. (In Russ.). Brockes E. Interview. Colson Whitehead: “To deal with this subject with the gravity it deserved was scary”. URL: https://www.theguardian.com/books/2017/jul/07/colson-whitehead-underground-railroad (access date: 20.01.22). (In Eng.) Coats A. “The Underground Railroad” breaks the chains of convention. URL: https://chireviewofbooks.com/2016/09/29/the-underground-railroad-breaks-the-chains-of-convention/ (access date: 20.01.22). (In Eng.) Douglass Fr. Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave Written by Himself. NY: Barnes & Noble Classics, 2003, 126 p. (In Eng.) Fain K. Review. Colson Whitehead brilliantly reimagines the Underground Railroad. URL: https://www.thenationalbookreview.com/features/2016/9/2/6bjk6o8d0t9zy85r13309ugsrqggjz (access date: 20.01.22). (In Eng.) Jacobs H. Incidents in the Life of a Slave Girl Written by Herself. NY, Barnes & Noble Classics, 2005, 242 p. (In Eng.) Kakutani M. Review: “Underground Railroad” lays bare horrors of slavery and its toxic legacy. URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/03/books/review-the-underground-railroad-colson-whitehead.html (access date: 20.01.22). (In Eng.) Olney J. “I was born”: Slave Narratives, Their Status as Autobiography and as Literature. The Slave’s Narrative, ed. by Charles T. Davis, Henry L. Gates Jr. Oxford; NY: Oxford University Press, 1985, pp. 148–175. (In Eng.) The Oxford Companion to African American Literature, ed. by William L. Andrews, Frances Smith Foster, Trudier Harris. NY, Oxford University Press, 1997, 866 p. (In Eng.) Vásquez J.G. In Colson Whitehead’s latest, the Underground Railroad is more than a metaphor. URL: https://www.nytimes.com/2016/08/14/books/review/colson-whitehead-underground-railroad.html (access date: 20.01.22). (In Eng.)
Author's info: Yulia L. Sapozhnikova, Doctorate degree in Philology, Associate Professor, Smolensk State University, Smolensk, Russia, sapojnikova.engl@yandex.ru, https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5565-3813