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Abyssinia's Samuel JohnsonEthiopian Thought in the Making of an English Author$
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Wendy Laura Belcher

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199793211

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199793211.001.0001

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Habesha Discourse in Johnson’s Sources for Rasselas

Habesha Discourse in Johnson’s Sources for Rasselas

(p.189) 7 Habesha Discourse in Johnson’s Sources for Rasselas
Abyssinia's Samuel Johnson

Wendy Laura Belcher

Oxford University Press

In this chapter and the next, the purpose is not to curtail any of the ongoing scholarly discussions of Rasselas. Rather, the purpose is to lay next to them a reading of Rasselas as, paradoxically and impossibly, a Habesha text. This chapter argues that the text is partly animated by Habesha discourse and therefore is partly African. Positing Rasselas as an energumen, a text through which others speak, is not a way to diminish Rasselas, but to open up new ways of reading it, readings that focus on the extraordinary connections this text has to other traditions, in particular African discourse and self-representations.

Keywords:   Ethiopian discourse, Ethiopian nobles, Rasselas

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