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The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters$
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Roy Kay

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780813037325

Published to Florida Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.5744/florida/9780813037325.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM FLORIDA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.florida.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University Press of Florida, 2019. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in FLASO for personal use.date: 16 October 2019

Rewriting Psalm 68:31: Narrative Formations of Ethiopia

Rewriting Psalm 68:31: Narrative Formations of Ethiopia

Chapter:
(p.168) 7 Rewriting Psalm 68:31: Narrative Formations of Ethiopia
Source:
The Ethiopian Prophecy in Black American Letters
Author(s):

Roy Kay

Publisher:
University Press of Florida
DOI:10.5744/florida/9780813037325.003.0008

Harper's poem “Ethiopia” initiates the poetic refiguring of Psalm 68:31. This chapter demonstrates how the figure of Ethiopia becomes a major motif in early black American fiction. In Delany's Blake, Hopkins' Of One Blood, and Griggs's The Hindered Hand, the figure of Ethiopia plays a dominant role in the critique of America and in the articulation of the Negro's humanity, poetic imagination, and quest for civil rights and equality under the law. Also, many of these narrative readings of Psalm 68:31 novelize the figure of Ethiopia into a messianic leader who liberates black people. Moreover, they situate the American discussion of race, the Negro Question, and race mixing, contrary to previous readings of the verse addressed, in non-literary ripostes. Finally, the chapter is an example of the plasticity of Ethiopia as a figure and signifier in black American letters.

Keywords:   black American fiction, figure of Ethiopia, Delany, Griggs, Hopkins, messiah, narrative, novel, plasticity, race mixing

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