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Antillean Articulation Essay

2051 words - 9 pages

Antillean Articulation
The Caribbean culture is a result of an amalgamation of different fragments of historical influences. Colonialism led to Europeans who brought Africans then Indians to lands that were already occupied by native Arawak and Amerindian Indians. This ensued a postcolonial environment that displayed a culture that was often schizophrenic. The culture that has been handed down whether through oppressive powers or willfully acquired offer inspiration for artists. In Derek Walcott’s essay, “The Muse of History,” he compares two different views of writers who have experienced colonialism the classical and the other radical. He says that there is the “common experience” of ...view middle of the document...

Walcott and Rhys use history as a tool for reinvention “not the jaded cynicism which sees nothing new under the sun, it is an elation which sees everything as renewed”(38). Literary tradition can be made to suit or adapt to the voice of the writer. The analysis of Walcott’s Omeros and Rhys Wide Sargasso Sea will show how these writers use the fragments of history as a source of renewal, which engenders an Antillean space and voice which challenges, redefines, and recreates literary canons.
Hybrids emerge from fragments of cultural and historical memories fused together, forming something new. Lorna Burns discusses ‘writing back’ to the literary canon in her article “Becoming-Bertha: Virtual Difference and Repetition in Postcolonial ‘Writing Back,’ a Deleuzian Reading of Jean Rhy’s Wide Sargasso Sea.” Burns notes that Jean Rhys and Derek Walcott are among other postcolonial writers who “appropriate and rewrite canonical texts, writing-back to the imperial canon,” producing “a text that both does and does not resemble the original work that marks its ambivalent status as a hybrid or creolized text” (17). It is the fusion of the European fragments with the Caribbean experience that results in a text that is a hybrid. This type of writing fosters something new where history is used to create an exotic hybrid—influences from the canons and experiences of the Caribbean. In The Location of Culture, Homi Bhabha introduces his idea of hybridity. He discusses how there is an in-between-ness that arises when we live on different borders due to different cultural influences. He argues that this kind of living in-between multiple identities leads to a form of hybridity, a schizophrenic or doubtful state of mind where there is no longer a specific home, rather the individual has mixed feelings over the fact that nothing is stable anymore. Bhabha says, “[W]e find ourselves in the moment of transit where space and time cross to produce complex figures of difference and identity, past and present, inside and outside, inclusion and exclusion” (1). Walcott and Rhys have both personally experienced the notion of hybridity both culturally and racially. Rhys was born in Dominica, a former English colony and similar to her heroine in Wide Sargasso Sea, Rhys was a Creole; her father was British and her mother native Creole. In this way we can see why Rhys would want to represent the character of Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre, in her space and with a voice articulating her struggle. The narrative reveals how the postcolonial environment was a struggle for the whites and the newly freed blacks. Rhys allows the reader to experience the struggle of a Creole female and perhaps her own struggle as well.
Walcott was born in St. Lucia, an island that was also a British colony. His ancestry consists of African grandmothers and European grandfathers. He considers himself a mongrel, a term that also applies to the Caribbean as a whole since there is almost no...

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