Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature

By Simon Gikandi | Go to book overview

3 Beyond the Kala-pani: The Trinidad Novels of Samuel Selvon

It is through the effort to recapture the self and scrutinize the self, it is through the lasting tension of their freedom that men will be able to create the ideal conditions of existence for a human world.

-- Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks

The great modernisms were . . . predicated on the invention of a personal, private style. . . . This means that the modernist aesthetic is in some way organically linked to the conception of a unique self and private identity.

-- Fredric Jameson, "Postmodernism and Consumer Society"

In 1950 George Lamming and Samuel Selvon arrived in England from Trinidad on the same boat, determined to become writers in the heart of the metropolis and subconsciously obsessed with similar questions about their colonial identities and anxieties. Ten years later, reflecting on "the decade in which the West Indian acquired recognition as a writer," Lamming paid Selvon and Victor Reid a compliment that has important implications for any discussion of the West Indian novel and its formal modalities:

Writers like Selvon and Vic Reid--key novelists for understanding the literary and social situation in the West Indies--are essentially peas-

-107-

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