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The Many Incarnations of Nat Turner

The Many Incarnations of Nat Turner The Many Incarnations of Nat Turner by Elizabeth Beaulieu Nat Turner Before the Bar of Judgment: Fictional Treatments of the Southampton Slave Insurrection. By Mary Kemp Davis. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1999. 298 pp. $30.00 Near the end of her comprehensive study of literary portrayals of Nat Turner and the Southampton slave revolt of 1831, Mary Kemp Davis sums up her argument thus: “Styron ‘signifies’ upon Drewry’s Nat Turner; Sherley Anne Williams upon Styron’s Nat Turner; Mary Spear Tiernan upon G. P. R. James’s Nat Turner; Pauline Bouve upon Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Nat Turner; and Daniel Panger, like each of the novelists surveyed here, upon Thomas Ruffin Gray’s Nat Turner, and perhaps what he had glimpsed of Styron’s Nat Turner in Har per’s magazine. This signi- fying chain threatens to extend into infinity. And well it should” (278 – 279). As the list suggests, Nat Turner has intrigued many writers, and Mary Kemp Davis is no exception. Her study carefully traces the development of Nat Turner as a literary figure and an historical enigma. The Southampton, Virginia slave insurrection lasted for two days in late August, 1831 and resulted in the deaths of approximately fifty-seven whites, mostly women http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png The Southern Literary Journal University of North Carolina Press

The Many Incarnations of Nat Turner

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Publisher
University of North Carolina Press
Copyright
Copyright © 2000 Department of English of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
ISSN
1534-1461

Abstract

The Many Incarnations of Nat Turner by Elizabeth Beaulieu Nat Turner Before the Bar of Judgment: Fictional Treatments of the Southampton Slave Insurrection. By Mary Kemp Davis. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State UP, 1999. 298 pp. $30.00 Near the end of her comprehensive study of literary portrayals of Nat Turner and the Southampton slave revolt of 1831, Mary Kemp Davis sums up her argument thus: “Styron ‘signifies’ upon Drewry’s Nat Turner; Sherley Anne Williams upon Styron’s Nat Turner; Mary Spear Tiernan upon G. P. R. James’s Nat Turner; Pauline Bouve upon Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Nat Turner; and Daniel Panger, like each of the novelists surveyed here, upon Thomas Ruffin Gray’s Nat Turner, and perhaps what he had glimpsed of Styron’s Nat Turner in Har per’s magazine. This signi- fying chain threatens to extend into infinity. And well it should” (278 – 279). As the list suggests, Nat Turner has intrigued many writers, and Mary Kemp Davis is no exception. Her study carefully traces the development of Nat Turner as a literary figure and an historical enigma. The Southampton, Virginia slave insurrection lasted for two days in late August, 1831 and resulted in the deaths of approximately fifty-seven whites, mostly women

Journal

The Southern Literary JournalUniversity of North Carolina Press

Published: Dec 1, 2001

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