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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 and Johnson’s Rasselas

Habesha Discourse and Johnson’s Rasselas

(p.212) 8 Habesha Discourse and Johnson’s Rasselas
Abyssinia's Samuel Johnson

Wendy Laura Belcher

Oxford University Press

Why is Rasselas so strange? It is the argument of this chapter that this is so at least partly because of Samuel Johnson’s strange relationship with the literature about the Habesha. While, of course, Rasselas does appropriate and misrepresent the Habesha, it is also an instance of the power of Africandiscourse to co-constitute the representations of the English canon. In the previous chapters have explored loaned words and images from the Habesha that appeared in Johnson’s fiction. In unpacking the relationship of Rasselas to Johnson’s reading about the Habesha, however, this chapter focuses on the more profound influences onRasselas of Habesha discourse.

Keywords:   Ethiopian discourse, Rasselas, the astronomer, the Nile

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