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This article analyses critical responses to William Styron's The Confessions of Nat Turner, claiming that the reception of the novel was strongly determined by the question of race and the different perception-andinterpretation of a "common" history by black and white Americans. I demonstrate that the polemics about Styron's novel resulted not only from an entirely different understanding by white and black critics of the question as to what literature is essentially and what social role it hasdoi:10.15290/cr.2014.07.4.02 fatcat:u63ksu2sj5fu5dkhexrprozegu