Thackeray, was re a load of Jane Austen that got snipped

Ven ven at vvcrane.fsnet.co.uk
Sat Jun 16 17:15:14 EDT 2001


Hi, Melissa and Rebecca and anyone else who was wondering 
where I got my information on Thackeray -- I should have given 
some of the context but I was too lazy to go to my bookshelf.

It's from an introduction to Wilkie Collins'  Armadale, written by 
John Sutherland:

Ozias Midwinter is one of the book's heroes. His mother was West 
Indian and his father white. His cousin, Allan Armadale, is a hearty, 
but rather foolish, Englishman. Sutherland writes of Ozias 
Midwinter:

"He seems to have been initially conceived as a deliberate 
contradiction to elements in Thackeray's novel Philip, which ran in 
the Cornhill magazine a couple of years before (1861 -- 2). Philip 
sets up a tendentious oppostion between the manly, Anglo Saxon, 
blue eyed, hearty hero of the title and his odious rival, the mulato, 
Captain Grenville Woolcomb. Woolcomb  (who is West Indian in 
origin) is sexually lascivious, rich, degenerate and corrupt. he 
steals the hero's intended wife and (black devil that he is) abuses 
her unspeakably. In the last chapters he stands for parliament, 
under the slogan "Am I not a man and a brudder?"* The opposition 
between Philip and Woolcomb is virulently racist and politically 
weighted in the context of the civil war raging in America in the 
1860s . Thackeray's position on black Americans (whom he had 
seen in his 1852 and 1858 trips) was unequivocal and obnoxious: 
"Sambo is not my man and brother " he frankly declared. His 
allusion,  is of course to the abolitionist's slogan "Am I not a man 
and a brother?" In his political sympathies Thackeray was strongly 
and virulently pro South and anti abolitionist. His prejudices were 
prominently displayed in the Cornhill magazine, which he edited 
until March 1862 and to which he was the star contributor until his 
death at Christmas 1863."  

Sutherland gives as a reference "Thackeray and Slavery" Deborah 
Thomas (Athens Ohio, 1993)

So, unlike JA's attitudes to Mary we can be a lot more certain 
about Thackeray's to his black characters, and moreover that he 
was a racist even by the standards of his own day -- which makes 
him fair game as far as I can see..

I'll probably add to this when the digest arrives .......

Ven,


Those who fail to reread are doomed
 to read the same story everywhere -- Barthes
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