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Chaotic JusticeRethinking African American Literary History$
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John Ernest

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780807833377

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: July 2014

DOI: 10.5149/9780807898505_ernest

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Truth Stranger than Fiction

Truth Stranger than Fiction

African American Identity and (Auto)Biography

Chapter:
(p.75) Chapter Two Truth Stranger than Fiction
Source:
Chaotic Justice
Author(s):

John Ernest

Publisher:
University of North Carolina Press
DOI:10.5149/9780807898505_ernest.6

This chapter argues that William Wells Brown's complexly multitextual and multivocal performance in My Southern Home is largely a new iteration of his ongoing self-transformations, comprising a series of autobiographical statements and strategies that appeared throughout his publishing career. Included are not only Brown's own four American and five British editions of the Narrative, but also the accounts of his life that open Clotel and The American Fugitive in Europe; William Farmer's “Memoir of William Wells Brown,” which comes at the beginning of Brown's Three Years in Europe; and Alonzo Moore's “Memoir of the Author,” that opens The Rising Son. The various versions correspond generally, though sometimes their details are contradictory, and they often present inaccurate information—to the point where it is easy to wonder whose authority should be accepted in any given account.

Keywords:   William Wells Brown, My Southern Home, self-transformations, autobiographical statements, publishing career

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