Marx's remark that history always happens twice - the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce - takes an odd twist in the case of the O. J. Simpson trial. the farce of the Simpson proceedings is anticipated by a tragic fiction - Richard Wright's Native Son. O. J. Simpson is certainly a more celebrated native son than bigger Thomas, but there are miany striking congruences. The overdetermined questions swirling around a dead white woman and an accused black many, the spectacular chase scene (Bigger Thomas' chronicled in the newspaper, Simpson's on television), and the carnival trial focused on gruesome evidence and star lawyers are all part of Wright's 1940 novel. The juxtaposition of these two texts is interesting not only for the ways in which the details of the fiction predict the Simpson saga, but also for the way in which it highlights how our institutions of representation circumscribe the ways we talk about African American politics and culture.
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Lyne, Bill, "Tiger Teeth Around Their Neck: The Cultural Logic of the Canonization of African American Literature" (1996). English. Paper 13.