The Novels of Samuel Selvon: A Critical Study

The Novels of Samuel Selvon: A Critical Study

The Novels of Samuel Selvon: A Critical Study

The Novels of Samuel Selvon: A Critical Study

Synopsis

The author of such works as A Brighter Sun (1952), The Lonely Londoners (1956), and The Plains of Caroni (1970), West Indian novelist Samuel Selvon is attracting growing amounts of scholarly attention. Nonetheless, criticism of his works has largely been imbalanced, with most scholarship focusing primarily on his language. This book corrects that imbalance by placing Selvon's novels within historical, sociological, and ideological contexts. A broad overview of Selvon's works, the volume examines ten novels in individual chapters. These chapters, in turn, are grouped in three categories: the peasant novels, the middle-class novels, and the immigrant novels. Thus the book provides a coherent examination of the development of Selvon's literary career and offers a fresh assessment of his writings.

Excerpt

The following chapters were not initially conceived as a book; they were written intermittently over a period of 10 years with different objectives. These essays are critical evaluations of the 10 novels, assessing analytically what Samuel Selvon was attempting to do in each novel. This book is therefore a timely counterbalance to the two specialized full-length studies by Clement Wyke and Mark Looker: the first is a stylistic critique, the other, a problematic postcolonial reading of Selvon’s novels. They make important contributions to Selvon studies, but they both need a prefatory work. Using an eclectic approach, this study provides the student of Selvon with a critical understanding of the novels, analyzing, within each fictional context, the elements of Selvon’s art. An author’s stated intentions perhaps provide the most reliable guide to achievement; they become especially important when there are, as in Selvon’s case, so many, repeated in interview after interview. The best that criticism can do consequently is to assess the distance between intent and achievement.

There has been all along, in these essays, a conscious effort toward reevaluation, not for its own sake, but because there are new and remedial things to say. There is also an attempt to redress the

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