Misrepresentation, Identity, and Authorship in Percival Everett’s Erasure

Gergely Vörös

Publication: Volume 3 Issue 2

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Abstract

The microcosm of Percival Everett’s Erasure—just as our own world—is interwoven with a set of normative expectations that not only circumscribe the self-identity of its main character, Thelonious Monk Ellison, but have a determining effect on him as an author as well. This paper explores a delicate link connecting racial misrepresentations, cultural industries, and power inequalities. It argues that the novel seeks to undermine the historically dominant assumptions of racial authenticity as well as locate to true racial authenticity in the plurality of African American experience. In doing so, it utilises Foucauldian notions of subjectivity, power, and discursive formations. Such concepts allow for the understanding of human subjectivity as the effect of larger semiotic systems. In this context, race is understood as a prescriptive rather than descriptive concept—a category that figures as a tool of social control. Consequently, Percival Everett’s Erasure enters into a dialogue with the dominant racial representations of the contemporary United States in the hope of deracialising the American imaginary.

Keywords: Percival Everett, Erasure, race, power, ideology, subjectivity, double consciousness

Gergely Vörös (gv16294@my.bristol.ac.uk) is a member of the Humanities Department at Galileo School in Bratislava (Slovakia). He earned his M.A. from the University of Bristol in 2018. Subsequently, he pursued postgraduate studies at Comenius University in Bratislava, graduating this year. Currently, he is focusing on issues of identity, race, and authenticity in contemporary African-American fiction.