• Native Sons; Or, How “Bigger” Was Born Again

    Nicholas Rinehart (see profile)
    CLCS Global Anglophone, LLC 20th- and 21st-Century American, LLC African American, TC Race and Ethnicity Studies, TC Translation Studies
    American literature--African American authors, Ethnology--Study and teaching, Postcolonialism, Literature
    Item Type:
    American novel, Marxism, race, textual scholarship, richard wright, African American literature, Ethnic studies, World literature
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    This article reconsiders Richard Wright's Native Son by comparing divergences between the published novel and an earlier typeset manuscript. It argues that such revisions render protagonist Bigger Thomas an icon of global class conflict rather than a national figure of racial tension. By revealing the continuities among critical essays that bookend the writing of Native Son, this essay also reveals how the novel's restructuring further elaborates Wright's globalism – highlighting his desire to produce work that transcended both national and racial categories. Finally, it considers Native Son as a work of “world literature” and a model for global minoritarian discourse. By examining “translations” of the novel into postcolonial contexts, it argues that the global afterlife of Native Son is no departure from the localized vision of the novel, but rather the recapitulation of its explicit globalism. This article thereby challenges critical convention dividing Wright's career cleanly into two phases: his American period and later self-exile. It emphasizes rather that Wright's worldliness should be traced back through his revision of Native Son and earlier critical essays – ultimately finding his globalism not a late-stage development, but actually the single theme that unifies his oeuvre.
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    Journal article    
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    6 years ago
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