Anglofone Caribbean Literature

Anglofone Caribbean Literature

According to COUNTRYAAH, Cuban literature is usually included in Latin American literature. The development of authentic Caribbean literature was initially hindered by the colonial situation, as the authors (usually members of the white upper class) followed the literary models of the respective mother country. The culture of the pre-Columbian Indians (Aruak, Caribs) had perished as a result of the European conquest. The slaves and their descendants who were deported from West Africa to the Caribbean, on the other hand, were largely able to preserve their traditions through oral tradition, so that the African heritage – in addition to the legacy of the contract workers who immigrated from Asia after the abolition of slavery – has strongly influenced the ethnic-cultural mixing and creolization process.

Anglofone Caribbean literature

At the beginning of a Caribbean romantic tradition are Thomas Henry McDermot (* 1870, † 1933) with “One brown girl and…” (1909) and Herbert George De Lisser (* 1878, † 1944) with “Jane’s career. A story of Jamaica ”(1914) established the specifically Caribbean form of the“ barrackyard novel ”. Life in the slums of cities is also the theme of the outstanding novels »Black Fauns« (1934) by Alfred H. Mendes (* 1897, † 1991) and »Minty Alley« (1936) by C. L. R. James, while the equally trend-setting novel » Banana bottom ”(1933) by C. McKay takes place in a traditional village community. C. McKay had emigrated to the USA in 1912, where he joined the Afro-American protest movement of the 1920s ( Harlem Renaissance ); At the beginning of the 1950s, a real exodus of Caribbean intellectuals followed, first to Great Britain, later also to the USA and Canada, which was accompanied by a boom in Caribbean literature due to the now cheaper publication options.

Two authors in particular appeared in the poetry: E. K. Brathwaite, who combines folk traditions (work song) with musical forms such as calypso and reggae, and D. A. Walcott, who, like EK Brathwaite, emphasizes the African heritage as creating identity and in his poetry as well as in his drama the prevailing political unculture in the present unmasked.

The most important contribution to Caribbean literature was made by the novel, which increasingly uses a language that, as a Creole language, differs considerably from standard English. A central theme is the search for personal and collective identity, for example in G. Lamming (“In the castle of my skin”, 1953) on an adolescence story, in V. S. Reid, Orlando Patterson (* 1940), John Hearne (* 1926, † 1994) and Fred D’Aguiar (* 1960) on the reconstruction of the past as a historical search for traces in the “Kaywana Trilogy” (1952−58) by E. A. Mittelholzer and the “Guyana Quartet” (1960−63) by W. Harris cosmological-mythological dimensions gain.

The “barrackyard novels” by R. Mais, E. Lovelace and Michael Thelwell (* 1939) and, in the Jamaican context, those novels – for example, provide an extremely critical examination of the present, which is characterized by racial and class conflicts as well as politically and socially motivated violence “Brother man”, 1954 by R. Mais  - in which the religious-cultural movement of the “Rastafarians” is used as an instrument of resistance. National focal points result from the inclusion of specific forms of popular culture: For Jamaica this is reggae, as in the novel “The harder they come” (1980) by M. Thelwell, successfully filmed by Perry Henzell (* 1939, † 2006)impressively documented; for Trinidad, on the other hand, these are calypso and carnival, among others. in the novels by S. Selvon, Michael Anthony (* 1932) and E. Lovelace.

The mass exodus not only of the intellectuals, but also of large parts of the lower and middle classes resulted, among other things. in the metropolises of London, New York and Toronto the emergence of enclaves or ghettos in which Caribbean traditions have largely been preserved. The conflict between isolation and integration or assimilation, which promote social advancement but at the same time may mean a loss of identity, is just as much the subject of a large number of novels as the everyday struggle against racial and social discrimination in a world characterized by white prejudices, for example with G. Lamming in his second outstanding novel, “The emigrants” (1954; German “With the Gulf Stream”), with S. D. Selvonin his trilogy “The lonely Londoners” (1956) – “Moses ascending” (1975) – “Moses migrating” (1983), with Austin Clarke (* 1934, † 2016) in his Toronto trilogy “The meeting point” (1967 ) – “Storm of fortune” (1973) – “The bigger light” (1975) as well as with the younger C. Phillips (“The final passage”, 1985; German “Abschied von der Tropeninsel”) and David Dabydeen (* 1955; “The intended”, 1991). The latter, as well as the more recent  female authors such as P. Marshall, J. Kincaid, Michelle Cliff – after the international success of the novel “Wide Sargasso Sea” (1966; German “Sargassomeer”) by J. Rhys – have increasingly appeared (* 1946)and Joan Riley (* 1958) on the second generation of West Indians living outside the Caribbean who have established themselves as “border crossers” between cultures; In contrast, V. S. Naipaul, who was born in Trinidad and lives in England, belongs to the first generation of immigrants, but feels part of the English literary tradition.

Anglofone Caribbean Literature