Once again, I have been caught up in the introduction. Though only a page long, I found this to be one of the most interesting parts of the book so far. This kind of opening validation of legitimacy and originality is something that we have seen in like, half of the narratives we have encountered.
I’m interested in this focus on legitimacy that seems to be built into the text. I know that when we discussed equiano, we in part discussed the legitimacy of his text, and in the end we concluded that whether or not the work was what it claimed to be was irrelevant because it had the same effect on us as readers, but this trend of validating prefaces suggests that the narratives themselves are preoccupied with their own legitimacy.
I am not sure whether to chalk this up to Equiano and Prince both being slave-narratives and seeking to situate themselves in a place of credibility for the sake of potentially affecting change. (which is a distinct possibility, considering that in the preface of Mary Prince direct reference is made to the abolitionist movement, which simultaneously acknowledges the impact that a text like it will likely have on its readers, and denies that this is the intent of the printing of the history).
However, there is also the case of Humphry Clinker, the fictional epistolary novel, which also includes a validating preface, situating the story in the contemporary literature of the time, and preparing the reader to interpret the following narrative as an actual account of factual events.
End/foot-notes in all three of these texts further demonstrate the desire of these texts to be ‘factual’, further contextualizing them in historically verifiable terms through reference to documented names and dates and other literary/historical work.
While I understand the need of the slave narratives to establish their credibility, particularly being direct accounts from 2 people of a categorically disregarded/disempowered race. However when you through in Tobias Smollet and his light-hearted, fictional text, it seems to suggest that this trend is a part of the overall attitudes of the time period. It seems plausible too, considering the neo-classical/enlightenment ideologies in circulation in the Georgian era, which were interested in analysis and fact.