Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History and the Presence of the Past

Academic journal article British Journal of Canadian Studies

The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History and the Presence of the Past

Article excerpt

Winfried Siemerling, The Black Atlantic Reconsidered: Black Canadian Writing, Cultural History and the Presence of the Past (Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queens University Press, 2015), 560 pp. Cased. $110. ISBN 978-0-7735-4507-6. Paper. $34.95. ISBN 978-0-7735-4508-3.

Although much research has been done on the Black Atlantic, Winfried Siemerling's book The Black Atlantic Reconsidered is the first comprehensive and reconsidered study of the evolution, networks and achievements of black Canadian literature in the context of the Black Atlantic world. A broader understanding of black Canadian literature is gained by illuminating the crucial role of transnational and transatlantic networks and by demonstrating the difficult relationship between facts, history and language and images used by authors from the beginning until today. As such, this book shows the contribution of black Canadian writers to the North American literary and cultural history and the richness of African Canadian literary culture.

Siemerling's aim is both to explore the intertextual relations of 'black writing in its Canadian and diasporic context' (p. 6) and to show 'the importance of the past in many contemporary black texts' and the distinction between 'fact and truth' (p. 26). With a chronological approach and with sources written in English and in French, this study traces the evolution of the first black narratives from the 'Book of Negroes' (1783) to the images and languages used in the contemporary writing by black Canadian authors like George Elliott Clarke and Lawrence Hill.

The book is structured into two main parts: part I, 'Early Testimony', shows the evolution, development and transnational networks of slave and free-black writings on images like 'slavery' and 'freedom' during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. …

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