“The sleeping beast” or barbarism at work – Libération

“The sleeping beast” or barbarism at work – Libération
“The sleeping beast” or barbarism at work – Libération

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In a radically violent text, American author Don Tracy explores the phenomenon of racism and the multiplier power of rumor

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The American Don Tracy was not an unknown novelist when he proposed a new manuscript to his publisher, The sleeping beast. Deemed too violent, it was refused by the reading committee and finally published in England in 1938, then in the “Série noire” collection in 1951. As Michael Belano recalls in his preface, authors like William Faulkner in Sanctuary (1931) or Horace McCoy with A shroud has no pockets (1937) had already addressed the theme of racism in the United States before him. But Don Tracy’s text is of radical violence, of direct cruelty, which shakes the reader even today.

In a small, modest village in Maryland, the month of November is already cold and the gray sky announces snow. Old Burroughs sells Jim, a young black alcoholic, a jug of corn whiskey. He sells it more expensively than to white customers but nothing surprising about this merchant, neither more nor less racist than

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