Added: January 2, 2016 – Last updated: January 2, 2016


Author: Will Turner

Title: Pulping the Black Atlantic

Subtitle: Chester Himes' A Case of Rape and the Limits of Expatriation

Journal: Comparative American Studies

Volume: 10

Issue: 4

Year: December 2012

Pages: 318-337

ISSN: 1477-5700 – Find a Library: WordCat | eISSN: 1741-2676 – Find a Library: WordCat

Language: English

Keywords: Modern History: 20th Century | American History: U.S. History; European History: French History | Prosecution: Wrong Convictions; Representations: Literature / Chester Himes; Types: Interracial Rape



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Abstract: »This article examines the early expatriate career of Chester Himes, and his overlooked Paris-set novella A Case of Rape (1956). Scholars have identified postwar Paris as the locus of a 'Black Atlantic' cosmopolitanism that allowed African American writers to transcend American racial and literary regimes, and in particular the stigma of black 'protest' fiction. By contrast, this article argues that Himes' exile was paradoxical; defined by an exchange, rather than an 'exceeding' of American racial and literary stigmas. First, I explore the fetishistic racial politics that energized the Left Bank's construction of black expatriates as symbols of individualist, masculine, and specifically western transgression. Second, I examine the way in which A Case of Rape, and its narrative of the false conviction of four African American expatriates for rape, dramatizes this paradox. With supreme irony, the novella sees the expatriate celebrity merge with a central symbol of the African American 'protest' novel: the black male rapist of white women. Finally, I argue that A Case of Rape is of particular importance for the ways in which it anticipates Himes' move into pulp fiction. Like his later detective series, A Case of Rape captures Himes' own disillusionment with conventional notions of authorial autonomy, and literary instrumentality. I conclude that expatriation worked to galvanize, rather than displace, Himes' interest in the overdetermination of African American literature within dominant western racial discourses.« (Source: Comparative American Studies)


  Paradoxical exile (p. 321)
  Reconstructing Bigger Thomas (p. 325)
  Expatriate expediency (p. 329)
  Pulping the Black Atlantic (p. 331)
  Notes (p. 334)
  References (p. 336)
  Notes on contributor (p. 337)

Wikipedia: History of Europe: History of France | History of the Americas: History of the United States | Literature: American literature | 20th-century American writers: Chester Himes