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W.E.B. Du Bois’s Proto-Afrofuturist Short Fiction: «The Comet»

Adriano Elia    Università degli Studi Roma Tre, Italia    

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abstract

This article examines W.E.B. Du Bois’s short story «The Comet» in the light of the Afrofuturist movement, a transnational and interdisciplinary, theoretical and literary-cultural enterprise that has endeavoured to rethink the history of Black civilisation in order to imagine a different, better, future. A remarkable example of post-apocalyptic, speculative and proto-Afrofuturist short fiction, «The Comet» functions as a fictional counterpart of the influential key concepts – double consciousness, the color line and the veil – previously introduced by Du Bois and it also foreshadows further critical issues and tropes that would be developed later, namely Fanon’s psychology of racism and Ellison’s metaphor of invisibility. Moreover, as a proto-Afrofuturist work of fiction, the story prefigures the post-apocalyptic worlds of Samuel R. Delany and Octavia Butler and becomes a parable in which the supernatural element of the toxic comet allows for interesting speculations on the alienation experienced by people of African descent.

Accepted
Oct. 22, 2016
Submitted
Sept. 22, 2016
Language
EN
Copyright: © 2016 Adriano Elia. This is an open-access work distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction is permitted, provided that the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. The license allows for commercial use. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.