Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative by Valerie Smith

Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American Narrative

byValerie Smith

Paperback | October 1, 1991

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It is by telling the stories of their lives that black writers--from the authors of nineteenth-century slave narratives to contemporary novelists--affirm and legitimize their psychological autonomy. So Valerie Smith argues in this perceptive exploration of the relationship between autobiography and fiction in Afro-American writing. Smith sees the processes of plot construction and characterization as providing these narrators with a measure of authority unknown in their lives. Focusing on autobiographies by Olaudah Equiano, Frederick Douglass, and Harriet Jacobs and the fiction of James Weldon Johnson, Richard Wright, Ralph Ellison, and Toni Morrison, she demonstrates the ways in which the act of narrating constitutes an act of self-fashioning that must be understood in the context of the Afro-American experience.

Hers is a fertile investigation, attuned to the differences in male and female sensibilities, and attentive to the importance of oral traditions.

Details & Specs

Title:Self-Discovery and Authority in Afro-American NarrativeFormat:PaperbackDimensions:192 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 0 inPublished:October 1, 1991Publisher:Harvard

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0674800885

ISBN - 13:9780674800885

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Table of Contents


1. Form and Ideology in Three Slave Narratives

2. Privilege and Evasion in The Autobiographyof an Ex-Colored Man

3. Alienation and Creativity in the Fictionof Richard Wright

4. Ralph Ellison's Invisible Autobiographer

5. Toni Morrison's Narratives of Community