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Periodical article Periodical article Leiden University catalogue Leiden University catalogue WorldCat catalogue WorldCat
Title:The memory of Pringle as Prospero, or the cannibal that faked Caliban: issues of authority and representation in Thomas Pringle's ethnographic poetry
Author:Masemola, Michael KgomotsoISNI
Periodical:African Identities (ISSN 1472-5851)
Geographic term:South Africa
literary criticism
About person:Thomas Pringle (1789-1834)ISNI
External link:https://doi.org/10.1080/14725843.2015.1087304
Abstract:This article argues that, with the benefit of hindsight, Thomas Pringle's poetry demands of his twenty-first-century readers that they measure its commitment to manumission by the balance between the syllables of his ethnographic poetry and force of his advocacy for manumission. The two measures, though, necessitate interdisciplinary forages into his work, albeit that the risk of either full leverage or attenuation may result from any interdisciplinary exercise that straddles history, anthropology, and literature. This paper ascribes primacy to that risk. It proceeds to point out a trajectory of earlier over-simplistic ethnographic poetry from a white colonist that, upon reflection, gives way to the later scripts of manumission of his work. It disavows an ahistorical reading of Pringle's poetry that imposes his anti-slavery sentiment as informing his poetry in general and ethnographic poetry in particular, and so demonstrates that Pringle's ethnographic poetry - unlike his celebrated manumission epistolary archive - does not support a singular reading of a humanizing intention. Pringle's poetic sensibility - however much laudable - remains at odds with his political convictions: he inaugurates a Calibanesques axis through which Southern Africans in the settler colony vacillate between 'Othering' silence and colonized 'voicing'. All told, Pringle's ethnography poetry is shown to render the indigenous subjects as Calibanesque and, by that very fact, 'cannibalizes' him as he devours and usurps their right to self-representation. Bibliogr., notes, ref., sum. [Journal abstract]