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Black PrometheusRace and Radicalism in the Age of Atlantic Slavery$
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Jared Hickman

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190272586

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190272586.001.0001

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Byronic Abolitionism

Byronic Abolitionism

(p.352) 8 Byronic Abolitionism
Black Prometheus

Jared Hickman

Oxford University Press

The Promethean personae of Byron’s antiheroes—including Byron’s own Promethean posture, which made him a transatlantic celebrity—proved enormously influential for Atlantic antislavery writing. Clinching the argument for a fully integrated historicization of the Romantic Age and the Age of Abolition, this chapter ventures both to read the fantastic ontology of a poem like Manfred in relation to nineteenth-century racial hierarchy and to account for explicit Byronic borrowings and stylizations in the work of Henry Highland Garnet, Harriet Beecher Stowe, the Brazilian abolitionist-poet Antônio Castro Alves, and others. In following the travel of Byron’s famous lines from Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage—“Hereditary bondsmen! Know ye not / Who would be free themselves must strike the blow?”—from the freedom struggle in modern Greece (in which Byron died) to the freedom struggle in plantation America and beyond, I trace the circuits—and important short-circuits—of nineteenth-century Atlantic radicalism.

Keywords:   George Gordon, Lord Byron, race, slavery, abolitionism, Romanticism, Henry Highland Garnet, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Antonio Castro Alves

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