In 1998 Jerome Branche published an article on Sab in the Afro-Hispanic Review in which he complained about the then-current spate of articles that called it a liberationist novel. He pointed out that it was not seen that way in its time, and sees the late 20th century interpretations of it as “fixing the meaning” (Hall), setting limits on the reader’s vision.
How valid are these readings of the text as feminist and abolitionist? He says not very, and will in this essay examine the power and gender relations in the text.
- The actual enslaved, and free Black people, are typically considered minor actors in abolition. This marginalization is important to note, although at the same time we must see that there were a lot of economic and political considerations pushing governments to end slavery, and many white Abolitionist societies.
- This article is called “Ennobling savagery? Sentimentalism and the subaltern in Sab“ and I like it. I have to find the rest of it and reread it (actually, I’ve found the rest of my printout now, and I’ve downloaded it).
- There is no evidence for Gómez de A.’s abolitionism in real life, nor for Domingo del Monte’s’; Haberly points out that Brazilian abolitionist literature is “both anti-slavery and anti-slave”; this could fit for Cuba as well. It’s interesting in the context of the current push for prestige for abolitionist writers, and in terms of the mythification of race relations in the Americas.
- Sab the character is committed to slavery: why do critics see him as a symbol of freedom? If the novel is feminist, why is there so little in it about Black women?
- And there is much more, and overall: SAB is about faithfulness of slaves, not the opposite; and as stand-in for the slaves, Sab obscures them. (I always like Jerome’s work.)
I think I can use this for my Ferreira paper, the scene of engulfment, decolonizing readings, left readings. I am glad I found this piece again.