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Reaping Something NewAfrican American Transformations of Victorian Literature$
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Daniel Hack

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780691196930

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2020

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691196930.001.0001

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Racial Mixing and Textual Remixing: Charles Chesnutt

Racial Mixing and Textual Remixing: Charles Chesnutt

(p.102) Chapter Four Racial Mixing and Textual Remixing: Charles Chesnutt
Reaping Something New

Daniel Hack

Princeton University Press

This chapter studies how Charles Chesnutt's engagement with Victorian literature forms a plot of its own. This plot develops over time and ultimately brings to the surface aspects of this engagement that remain submerged in his earlier work. Chesnutt not only leverages Victorian literature to tell the stories he wants to tell but also takes a more critical stance toward his intertexts, probing and exposing shortcomings in their treatment of race. Borrowing the title of his last novel, then, the chapter suggests that Victorian literature is Chesnutt's quarry: both source and prey. Here, the double-edged nature of this engagement manifests itself most fully and strikingly when Chesnutt seizes on Victorian references to an identity as marginal and marginalized in that literature as it is central to his own writings: that of the racially mixed individual, the mulatto.

Keywords:   Charles Chesnutt, racial mixing, textual remixing, mulatto, intertexts, Victorian literature

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