chapter  4
14 Pages

Power, Politics, and the Postnational World of Octavia Butler’s Lilith’s Brood


This chapter introduces a main theme in the novel: the disconnect between official history and lived reality, and the relationship that both have to the notion of Blackness, that bone-deep affinity to soulfulness, to suffering and radical otherness, to an in distinction between blood and color. This notion of Blackness transmits through myth, a system that precedes and undergrads historical and literary discourses. This myth of Blackness also recalls an African-American historiography written in the language of dark versus light, savagery versus civilization, bondage versus freedom. This language can be found in what Robert Stepto calls pregeneric myths, shared stories or myths that not only exist prior to literary form, but eventually shape the forms that comprise a given culture's literary canon. The Negro is now officially human, Paul Beatty explains as Slumberland begins; succinctly contextualizing historical dialogues on Blackness and humanity that have attempted either to separate or join the two.