X Close

Check out the ecda's meta-Glossary as well!

This archive item needs your help...

Visit the link for each available component to learn more about contributing and guides for getting started. Thanks in advance for ensuring the ecda is a reliable and sustainable research resource through your contributions!

Thanks to those who have contributed so far to this item!

Scholarly Introduction

This archive item already has a Scholarly Introduction!

Go to the Scholarly Introductions page under "Add Intro" tab to browse other archive items that still need a contributed introduction.

Map

Timeline

Contributed Scholarly Introduction: William, Earle Jr., Obi; or, the History of Three-Fingered Jack (1804)

William, Earle Jr., Obi; or, the History of Three-Fingered Jack (1804)

X Close

ecda : : bookmarks

Manage your ecda bookmarks and bookmark collections.

You need to or Register to bookmark/favorite this content.

Abstract

William Earle's Obi is a sentimental and episodic interpretation of one of Jamaica's folk heroes: Jack Mansong, a runaway slave and Maroon leader. Following the first London edition of Earle's novel, Obi was also published in 1804 by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. in Worcester, Massachusetts. Outside of these two editions, excerpts from Earle's novel were also included in several pamphlets and chapbooks, anonymously published in London in 1829.

Introduction

William Earle Jr.’s epistolary novel, Obi was first published in 1800 by Earle and Hemet in London. According to Srinivas Aravamudan, little is known about the life of William Earle Jr., outside of his career as a writer in England, which was controversial in that he was accused of plagiarism and defamation. Obi is a sentimental interpretation of Jack Mansong, a runaway slave and Maroon leader. Articles published in the Jamaican newspaper The Royal Gazette between 1780 and 1781 indicate that Mansong lived in the Blue Mountains of Jamaica and led a group of around sixty Maroons, who reportedly subsisted mainly through the robbery of travellers. Earle’s epistolary novel begins with the narrative of Mansong’s mother, Amri, whose story of enslavement galvanizes Mansong’s revenge and rebellion. Amri’s narrative details her capture, along with that of her husband Makro, by slave traders in West Africa and the hardships they suffer on the middle passage to Jamaica. Makro dies on the journey, leaving a pregnant and grieving Amri to give birth to and raise Jack while enslaved on a plantation in Jamaica.

Earle drew on numerous sources for details concerning Jamaica, West Africa, and Mansong, including Bryan Edwards’ History, Civil and Commercial, of the British Colonies in the West Indies (1793), Mungo Park’s Travels in the Interior of Africa (1799), and Benjamin Moseley’s A Treatise on Sugar (1799). As a doctor living in Kingston, Jamaica between 1768 and 1784, Moseley had first published A Treatise that included his own narrative interpretation of Jack Mansong’s life, based on varied Jamaican newspaper stories. Earle’s Obi and Moseley’s Treatise together became sources for several other fictionalized accounts of Mansong, such as William Burdett’s Life and Exploits of Mansong (1800) and John Fawcett’s pantomime Obi, or Three Finger’d Jack (1800). Following the first London edition of Earle’s novel, Obi was also published in 1804 by Isaiah Thomas, Jr. in Worcester, Massachusetts. Outside of these two editions, excerpts from Earle’s novel were also included in several pamphlets and chapbooks, anonymously published in London in 1829.

Scholars such as Diana Paton have argued that Earle’s novel, as well as the proliferation of other prose and theatrical representations of Mansong, functioned to undercut “the potentially strong antislavery case...made through the heroic outlaw figure” (43). The domestication and vilification of Mansong that occurs in these texts, scholars argue, served to allay British fears of slave rebellion in the colonies at a time when the Haitian Revolution began to overturn the French plantocracy. Along with the complex portrayal of slavery and rebellion in Earle’s novel, scholars have been interested in the novel’s portrayal of obeah, and in Amri’s revenge narrative.

Notes

Bibliography

Works Cited

Carey, Brycchan and Diana Paton. “Histories of Three-Fingered Jack: A Bibliography.” BrycchanCarey.com. 27 June 2008.

Earle, William. Obi, Or, the History of Three-Fingered Jack. Ed. Srinivas Aravamudan, Broadview Press, 2005.

Paton, Diana. “The Afterlives of Three-Fingered Jack.” Slavery and the Cultures of Abolition: Essays Marking the Bicentennial of the British Abolition Act of 1807. Edited by Brycchan Carey and Peter J. Kitson, D. S. Brewer, 2007.

Secondary Bibliography

Cottrell, Jeffrey. “At the End of the Trade: Obeah and Black Women in the Colonial Imaginary.” Atlantic Studies vol. 12 no. 2, 2015, pp. 200–218.

Jaudon, T. W. “Obeah’s Sensations: Rethinking Religion at the Transnational Turn.” American Literature vol. 84 no. 4, 2012, pp. 715–741.

Reed, Peter P. Rogue Performances: Staging the Underclasses in Early American Theatre Culture, Palgrave Macmillan, 2009.

Richardson, Alan. “Romantic Voodoo: Obeah and British Culture, 1797-1807.” Studies in Romanticism vol. 32 no.1, 1993, pp. 3–28.

Thank you for contributing a Scholarly Introduction!

Instructions

Please follow steps:

Getting Started

  1. Under "Contributions" widget, unselect "Needs Scholarly Introduction," and select "In Progress"
  2. Under "Contributor" widget, add your full name (Jane Doe); multiple contributors, separate by comma (Jane Doe, John Doe); names will appear as you type if already added to database (please select name if already added)
  3. Under "Author" widget, select your username to associate this Scholarly Introduction to your projects
  4. Under "Publish" widget, select "Update" to save your progress

Adding Introduction (Review "Tutorial: Scholarly Introductions" under the Tutorial tab on Scholarly Introductions homepage)

  1. Paste in your scholarly introduction in the "Scholarly Introduction" text widget (in blue): "Scholarly Introduction" > "Edit"
  2. Pasting into the visual editor should preserve your formatting
  3. Select "Update" under "Publish" widget to save your progress

Adding Bibliography

  1. Paste in your works cited and/or secondary sources under the "Bibliography" text widget

Or, Embed an existing bibliography from your myBibs projects:

  1. Under Layouts, select "Clone: myBibs"
  2. Select your bibliography
  3. Select "Insert"
  4. Select "After"
  5. Open your newly added bibliography text widget and add "works-cited" to the "Attributes" > "Widget ID"
  6. Select "Update" under "Publish" widget to save your progress

Adding Metadata

  1. Add Coauthors if archival item has multiple authors
  2. Add People (name of author, scholars, or other persons of interest mentioned in Scholarly Introduction: Firstname Lastname; separate multiple person by comma; please select existing person names to avoid duplication)
  3. Add keywords under the Keywords widget (separate by comma; if keyword already exists, it will appear as you type; please select existing keywords to avoid duplication)
  4. Add Subjects (nineteenth-century Caribbean literature, Medicine, etc)
  5. Add Events (include any named events of interest or mentioned in Scholarly Introduction)
  6. Add Location (include location names)
  7. Add Date(s) (include dates of note mentioned in Scholarly Introduction)

 

Leave a Reply