Caliban in Exile: The Outsider in Caribbean Fiction

Caliban in Exile: The Outsider in Caribbean Fiction

Caliban in Exile: The Outsider in Caribbean Fiction

Caliban in Exile: The Outsider in Caribbean Fiction

Synopsis

The Caliban-Prospero encounter in Shakespeare's The Tempest has evolved as a metaphor for the colonial experience. This book utilizes the Caliban symbol in examining the influence of colonialism in Caribbean literature, focusing on three major writers: Jean Rhys of Dominica, George Lamming of Barbados, and Sam Selvon of Trinidad. The novels chosen are set in England where the writers and their characters experience the alienation of the exiled--unwelcome in Prospero's home country. Other Caribbean writers are included in the analysis, and the volume concludes by examining contemporary writers for whom Caliban's role appears to be shifting beyond physical exile.

Excerpt

In the 1970s the literature of the British Commonwealth was introduced as a course for the graduate program in Indian universities. It had already become an option in England where Professors William Walsh, A. N. Jeffares, and Arthur Ravenscroft (from the Department of English, University of Leeds) were mainly responsible for incorporating this literature in the curriculum. The British Broadcasting Corporation also played an important part in drawing the attention of the world to this emerging body of writing.

This was a period of change. Traditionalists in the Indian academic world, indoctrinated in the British canon, were horrified when departments of English included American literature, Indian writing in English, and Commonwealth Literature in their programs. The first was considered a Johnny-come-lately since it was "only" two hundred and fifty years old. The second was condemned as a betrayal of Indian languages in which great writing went back hundreds of years, and the third was suspected of having a political bias. It was not long, however, before the traditionalists retired to the wings, bowing gracefully to diversification, and new literatures in English were added to the curriculum. Students in different parts of the world now eagerly read twentieth-century writing from Africa, Australia and New Zealand, Canada, the Caribbean, and India. As testimony of this popularity I have received letters from researchers in as geographically discrete places as Hawaii and Venice.

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