The Wings of Atalanta
Title Details

340 Pages

22.8 x 15.2 cm

2 b/w illus.

Series: Studies in American Literature and Culture

Imprint: Camden House

The Wings of Atalanta

Essays Written along the Color Line

by Mark Richardson

  • Description
  • Contents
  • Reviews
Employing close reading of a kind usually associated with the study of lyric poetry, this book offers a general framework for reading African-American (and American) literature.



This book springs from two premises. The first is that, with a nod toward Marianne Moore, America is - has always been - an imaginary place with real people living in it. The second is that slavery and its legacies explain how and why this is the case. The second premise assumes that slavery - and, after that fell, white supremacy generally - have been necessary adjuncts to American capitalism. Mark Richardson registers these two premises at the level of style and rhetoric - in the texture as much as in the "arguments" of the books he engages. His book is written to appeal to a general reader. It begins with Frederick Douglass, continues with W. E. B. Du Bois, Charles Chesnutt, and Richard Wright, and treats works by writers not often discussed in books concerning race in American literature - for example, Stephen Crane and Jack Kerouac. It brings to bear on such books as Douglass's My Bondage and My Freedom, Du Bois's The Souls of Black Folk, and Crane's The Red Badge of Courage a degree and quality of attention one usually associates with the study of lyric poetry. The book offers a general framework within which to read African-American (and American) literature.

Mark Richardson is Professor of English at Doshisha University, Kyoto, Japan. He is co-editor of The Letters of Robert Frost (Harvard University Press) and author of The Ordeal of Robert Frost (University of Illinois Press, 1997).
Introduction
Frederick Douglass and the Philosophy of Slavery
W. E. B. Du Bois and the Redemption of the Body
The Mephistophelean Skepticism of Stephen Crane
Charles Chesnutt: Nowhere to Turn
Richard Wright: Exile as Native Son
Peasant Dreams: Reading On the Road
Conclusion
Notes
Bibliography
"The book is both timely and timeless. Scholars of any of these individual authors can benefit from the rigorous historical and contextual research Richardson has done on the authors. Scholars more concentrated on literary analysis equally profit from his close analysis of the styles and metaphors of each author. The value of weaving these authors together is that it allows the reader to understand the crucial nature of the colour line to American culture." Modern Language Review
"It is an ambitious project that Richardson charts for his book: to historicize the white supremacist rhetoric of a slave economy and the literary resistance to that rhetoric; to offer thorough stylistic readings of autobiographies, speeches, stories, and novels (and poetry too), some of them rarely associated with race relations; to review the oeuvre and life of a complex author like Wright, not to mention his proofs; to weave contemporary political and cultural developments into the texts under investigation. Richardson carries it off with skill, in taut and candid prose, as only a seasoned scholar could." Soundings
"The Wings of Atalanta is a much-needed study that underscores the significance of how a 'particular form of white supremacy' took shape in America. In this rigorously researched and beautifully written book, Mark Richardson interrogates the works of Frederick Douglass, W. E. B. Du Bois, Stephen Crane, Charles Chesnutt, Richard Wright, and Jack Kerouac to demonstrate how these authors used or resisted white supremacy, indirectly or overtly, in their work. Asking today's reader to take a look back at what Whitman called our 'traveled roads,' Richardson seeks to better understand how we arrived where we are today and possibly expose a pathway to change our future. In the process he has created a deeply rewarding study for all who choose to enter."
"'This splendid collection of essays by Mark Richardson examines the literary, historical, and political implications of seeing America as an imaginary place inhabited by real people. Forging his argument out of lucid and, at times, provocative readings of Douglass, Du Bois, Wright, Kerouac, and others, Richardson prodigiously sweeps backward and forward across American history as he calls for the emergence of a new America to supersede the old imaginary place, a new national space redeemed by living up to the fullest of its democratic possibilities. His message is as timely as it is essential." .

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9781571132390

June 2019

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Title Details

340 Pages

2.28 x 1.52 cm

2 b/w illus.

Series: Studies in American Literature and Culture

Imprint: Camden House