Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature

By Simon Gikandi | Go to book overview

Conclusion

No, we have not yet reached that decolonization of thought which would be . . . the affirmation of a difference, and a free and absolute subversion of the spirit. There is there something like a void, a silent interval between the fact of colonization and that of decolonization.

-- Abdelkebir Khatibi, Maghreb Pluriel

In the face of a large number of conflicting ideological and aesthetic claims for and against modernism and its influence on cultural production in the so-called Third World, the initial premise of my study was Paul Gilroy's claim that the relationship of blacks to modernity raised central issues about the validity of colonized cultures and repressed histories, subjectivity, and identity.1. I was surprised to discover that although leading Caribbean writers such as Aimé Césaire and Wilson Harris had openly adopted modernist linguistic and formal strategies as part of an "ongoing and unceasing re-visionary and innovative strategy," and though they traced the modernist trend in the Caribbean to "the roots in the deepest layers of the past that still address us," there was strong critical resistance to modernism and modernity in the study of Caribbean literature.2. In its simplest form, this resistance was based on a narrow identification or definition of modern

____________________
1.
Paul Gilroy, There Ain't No Black in the Union Jack: The Cultural Politics of Race and Nation ( London: Hutchinson, 1987), p. 219.
2.
Stephen Slemon, "Interview with Wilson Harris," Ariel: A Review of International English Literature 19 ( July 1988), 48.

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