Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, and the Politics of Representative Identity

Levine, Robert S.

Published by Univ North Carolina
ISBN 10: 0807846333 / ISBN 13: 9780807846339
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Synopsis: The differences between Frederick Douglass and Martin Delany have historically been reduced to a simple binary pronouncement: assimilationist versus separatist. Now Robert S. Levine restores the relationship of these two important nineteenth-century African American writers to its original complexity. He explores their debates over issues like abolitionism, emigration, and nationalism, illuminating each man's influence on the other's political vision. He also examines Delany and Douglass's debates in relation to their own writings and to the work of Harriet Beecher Stowe. Though each saw himself as the single best representative of his race, Douglass has been accorded that role by history--while Delany, according to Levine, has suffered a fate typical of the black separatist: marginalization. In restoring Delany to his place in literary and cultural history, Levine makes possible a fuller understanding of the politics of antebellum African American leadership.

Review: Frederick Douglass symbolizes the abolitionist movement of the 19th century as only a handful of other black Americans do. His autobiography is required reading, and he is acknowledged as a central figure in American history. At the same time, Martin Delany is often remembered only as Douglass's opposite, and his work is largely absent from the canon. With Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, and the Politics of Representative Identity, Robert S. Levine, an associate professor of English at the University of Maryland, attempts to explore the complex relationship between these two men. He finds differences between the two, but significant correspondences as well--each believed in the importance of Africa, in the perniciousness of slavery, and in the need for abolition. A great value of the book is Levine's exploration of such often overlooked sources as articles in contemporary black newspapers, as well as letters and lectures.

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Title: Martin Delany, Frederick Douglass, and the ...
Publisher: Univ North Carolina
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