Collective Commerce and the Problem of Autobiography in Olaudah Equiano’s Narrative

Collective Commerce and the Problem of Autobiography in Olaudah Equiano’s Narrative Abstract: This essay examines Olaudah Equiano’s use of novelistic types in light of his vision for collective commerce between Britain and Africa. Both in Equiano’s own day and in our own, criticism of his Narrative (1789) has emphasized his transition from the general to the particular, from the slave to the subject. Engaging the longstanding autobiographical reading, this essay identifies instead Equiano’s interests in types of and groups of people. In doing so, it finds the transformation from a pre-commercial type of African to a commercial one that occurs in the text to reflect Equiano’s economic worldview. As it draws on what one scholar terms the “speculative discourse” of eighteenth-century finance, a discourse that was linked with the early realist novel, the Narrative helps us to apprehend how Equiano hoped to change the terms of global commerce. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Eighteenth Century University of Pennsylvania Press

Collective Commerce and the Problem of Autobiography in Olaudah Equiano’s Narrative

The Eighteenth Century, Volume 54 (4) – Nov 21, 2013

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Publisher
University of Pennsylvania Press
Copyright
Copyright © University of Pennsylvania Press.
ISSN
1935-0201
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Abstract

Abstract: This essay examines Olaudah Equiano’s use of novelistic types in light of his vision for collective commerce between Britain and Africa. Both in Equiano’s own day and in our own, criticism of his Narrative (1789) has emphasized his transition from the general to the particular, from the slave to the subject. Engaging the longstanding autobiographical reading, this essay identifies instead Equiano’s interests in types of and groups of people. In doing so, it finds the transformation from a pre-commercial type of African to a commercial one that occurs in the text to reflect Equiano’s economic worldview. As it draws on what one scholar terms the “speculative discourse” of eighteenth-century finance, a discourse that was linked with the early realist novel, the Narrative helps us to apprehend how Equiano hoped to change the terms of global commerce.

Journal

The Eighteenth CenturyUniversity of Pennsylvania Press

Published: Nov 21, 2013

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