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Extra resources for Bloody Romanticism: Spectacular Violence and the Politics of Representation, 1776–1832

Sample text

Neptune breaks his silence and begins a remarkable routine of carnivalesque comic exchanges based around the theme of the crucifixion. His first retort is to damn the departing magistrates as a ‘set of barbarous rascals’ (2: 296), an inversion of Christ’s forgiveness of these enemies. ). The pun on the word ‘aim’ is quite intentional, as it combines several meanings: the merciful thrust of a weapon, the piercing of Christ on the cross, and the ‘aim’ or ‘point’ of this ritual killing, which is to make Neptune an example.

To sing of tortured negroes’: Poetry and protest The redaction of the slave experience into a series of metonymic, violent tableaux is even more apparent in the more confined textual space of the poem. A detailed account of a slave atrocity occupied more sheer space in a poem than in a longer prose narrative. But the reader’s expectation of a poem would also be, presumably, that the poem would deliver an affective premium. The major advantage of the poem over the longer prose polemic 22 Bloody Romanticism would be its ability to make the reader feel, to compress the horrors of slavery into even more memorable tropes, images and expressions.

He sings several songs welcoming the African after-life. He discusses his trial with some onlookers but reminds them not to miss their breakfast. He asks a Jew to pay him back some money so he can purchase food and drink and be kept alive, ‘which speech, on seeing the Jew stare like a fool, this mangled wretch accompanied with a loud, hearty laugh’ (2: 296–7). Perhaps the joke here is a self-ironizing recognition of the power of racist humour and a skit on the stereotypical demonization of Jews as Christian-killers.

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