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Passing in the Works of Charles W. Chesnutt$
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Susan Prothro Wright and Ernestine Pickens Glass

Print publication date: 2010

Print ISBN-13: 9781604734164

Published to University Press of Mississippi: March 2014

DOI: 10.14325/mississippi/9781604734164.001.0001

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In the Wake of D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation

In the Wake of D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation

Chesnutt’s Paul Marchand, F.M.C. as Command Performance

(p.67) In the Wake of D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation
Passing in the Works of Charles W. Chesnutt

Susan Prothro Wright

University Press of Mississippi

This chapter puts forward the hypothesis that Charles Chesnutt attempted to publish his novel Paul Marchand, F.M.C. in 1921, with the goal of countering D. W. Griffith’s The Birth of a Nation. Substantiating this hypothesis not only helps to answer questions about Chesnutt’s decision to submit a novel for publication so long after the publication of his final ill-fated novel, The Colonel’s Dream but also reveals the novel’s potential as a feasible challenge to Birth’s depictions of both white and black characters. In relation to this, it is important to note that Chesnutt’s political and literary activities parallel African-American activism during the racially turbulent political climate from 1906 until 1921, the year Chesnutt submitted Paul Marchand for publication.

Keywords:   ill-fated novel, D. W. Griffith, feasible challenge, black characters, literary activities, African-American activism, political climate

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