The First American "Superspy" : Secret Agency and the Black Nation in Martin R. Delany's Blake


SMITH Jeffrey Alan

Year of publication 2019
Type Article in Proceedings
Conference Silesian Studies in English 2018 : Proceedings of the 5th International Conference of English and American Studies
MU Faculty or unit

Faculty of Arts

Web Silesian Studies in English 2018
Keywords Martin R. Delany; Blake; The Huts of America; black nationalism; spy fiction; superspy
Description Martin R. Delany’s only novel, Blake; Or, the Huts of America, has been studied for its black-nationalist ideas but criticized as poorly crafted. There is widespread confusion even as to its genre. This essay argues that both its artistic and ideological aims are clarified if we view its hero, Henry Blake, as a forerunner of later “superspies” like Richard Hannay and James Bond. Blake serves no existing state but the black “nation within a nation,” as Delany had earlier called it. His secret mission: to lend that nation agency, bringing it into existence through his international, omni-capable exploits.
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