Towering figures in Caribbean literature

Barbadian and Guyanese writers celebrate their lifetime achievement awards for outstanding work

Barbadian George Lamming, an illustrious Caribbean novelist, poet and cultural critic, along with celebrated Guyanese writer Sir Wilson Harris last evening received Lifetime Achievement Awards at the 79th Annual Anisfield-Wolf Awards in Cleveland, Ohio, United States. The Anisfield-Wolf Awards recognize books that make important contributions to our understanding of racism and human diversity.

Lamming was just 23 and living in London when he wrote his first novel In the Castle Of My Skin, which draws on his island childhood of mixed African and English parentage, and reflects on post-colonial and neocolonial questions of identity. The book was a sensation that won the Somerset Maugham Award and was championed by Jean-Paul Sartre and Richard Wright.

George Lamming
George Lamming

“I am always feeling terrified of being known; not because they really know you, but simply because their claim to knowledge is a concealed attempt to destroy you,” Lamming wrote in this first, autobiographical novel. “That is what knowing means. As soon as they know you they will kill you, and thank God that’s why they can’t kill you. They can never know you . . . . The likenesses will meet and make merry, but they won’t know you. They won’t know the you that’s hidden somewhere in the castle of your skin.”

Lamming was born in Carrington Village, Barbados. He earned a scholarship to Combermere, a distinguished high school where his teacher Frank Collymore welcomed the young Lamming into his home library on weekends, and encouraged his reading and writing. Collymore published some of his student’s earliest work in the literary journal Bim.

Lamming taught in Trinidad from 1946 to 1950, after which he joined the Caribbean Diaspora in London. He worked first in a factory, then as an announcer for the BBC. When In The Castle Of My Skin was published, the reviews were mixed, but a positive piece by V.S. Pritchett proved instrumental to its success.

In 1998, Lamming said: “It’s a great pity it didn’t come out third or fourth rather than first. I don’t really regard it as the best or biggest of the books. I think it may be the most organic of books because it came out of the gut, whereas the others were products of the mature imagination, particularly Natives And Season.”

Lamming wrote five more novels and a collection of essays, The Pleasures Of Exile, which examines Caribbean politics and race. His poetry and short stories were published in various anthologies. Conversations, a volume of essays and interviews, came out in 1992.

Describing himself as “a political novelist”, Lamming is credited –– alongside Wilson Harris, V.S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott, Garfield Sobers and others –– with making the emergence of a Caribbean identity possible. Lamming depicts the difficulty of cultural identity in this region as a direct result of colonial rule.

Lamming began his academic career in 1967 as a writer-in-residence and lecturer in the Creative Arts Centre at the University of the West Indies. He has taught as a visiting professor at Brown University, the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Pennsylvania. He has lectured in Denmark, Tanzania and Australia. Lamming has won a Guggenheim Fellowship and the Langston Hughes Award.

The scholar Anthony Bogues notes that “the tight relationship between politics, knowledge, language and the spaces of freedom in Lamming’s writings makes him one of the most important political novelists in Caribbean literature”.

Sir Theodore Wilson Harris is a celebrated Guyanese writer and a visionary explorer of the interdependence among history, landscape and humanity. Born to an insurance agent and his wife, Harris studied at Queen’s College in Georgetown, Guyana. He became a land surveyor and, in 1955, the government’s senior surveyor. The years in Guyana’s interior were formative, giving Harris a sense of endless forests, the vast Amazon and the Amerindian peoples.

Wilson Harris
Wilson Harris

“The interior of Guyana came alive to me, and seemed like another planet,” he has recalled. He was mesmerized by a landscape that seemed both alive and mysterious, as well as by the traces of pre-Columbian inhabitants.

“The word ‘Guyana’ is based on an Amerindian word that means ‘land of waters’,” Harris told an interviewer in 2013 for Bomb Magazine. “There is magic in this contrast in which the spectre of land moves, the ghost of rock resembles a tide, in rivers that run. Such magic is the dance of place.”

Harris began writing poems and essays as one of a group of Guyanese intellectuals. He published his poetry under a pseudonym and began exploring cross-cultural currents that link the Homeric to the Guyanese.

In 1959, Harris left for England to become a full-time writer. It took him three attempts at a novel –– all of which he destroyed –– before he was satisfied with Palace Of The Peacock, published by Faber & Faber in 1960. The editor who approved it was T.S. Eliot. The story centres on Donne, who is leading a crew upriver to bring back Amerindian labour. A series of tragedies brings about the death of each principal character, which Harris uses to highlight the superficial illusions of opposites that separate the men.

Harris went on to write 24 more novels, all published by Faber & Faber, all written in longhand with pen or pencil on paper. His fiction, dense with symbolism and sensuous imagery, has little in the way of conventional plot or character. Instead, it draws on dream, myth and archetype –– and is often enigmatic. His ear for dialogue is acute.

Professor Mark McWatt of the University of the West Indies notes that “part of the quietly revolutionary art of Wilson Harris’ writings is his ability to read in the landscape and to reproduce in his fiction the human emotions of fear and dread”.

Harris has called his work “quantum fiction,” influenced by the theory of relativity.

“In describing the world you see,” Harris has said, “the language evolves and begins to encompass realities that are not visible.” He is decidedly unconventional: “My writing is quantum writing. Do you know of the quantum bullet? The quantum bullet, when it’s fired, leaves not one hole but two.”

Knighted in 2010 by Queen Elizabeth, Harris has been awarded honorary doctorates by several universities, including the University of the West Indies (1984) and the University of Liege (2001). He has twice won the Guyana Prize For Literature.

One Response to Towering figures in Caribbean literature

  1. Essay on Romeo and Juliet September 24, 2017 at 4:35 am

    A great way to ensure that your activity link is practical
    is always to clarify it to someone else.
    You’re likely to the right course if you explain what you feel
    the text is and so they have it. Paul’s cathedral designed
    Outdated Agonyis residence|the house of Previous Unhappiness was
    created by Christopher Wren, who was the seventeenth-century architect An advantage a ghostwriter can offer, which can be usually ignored, is
    actually an entirely fresh view of the subject. There is who a proficient
    writer exploring an alien theme will not conform to the subject to the stereotyped approach and will not have set opinions.
    There’s generally a taste which could incorporate a web page and a great deal of value.
    Paul’s cathedral|Christopher Wren, who had been the seventeenth-century builder The Web
    where it is easily accessible to the marketplace is
    included by a communication medium that is growing.
    A company’s site is identified by this report and
    the way efficient it’s reaching its target audience. Beginning with their marketplace from your dedication in their segmentation objectives,
    and distinguishing their communication goals. The
    company that’ll be infocus for this kind of record will be the
    American Health Insurance And Beauty Aids Start (AHBAI), the industry company in colaboration with The Proud Female beauty items.
    AHBAI can be an internationally famous trade organization addressing the worldis leading Dark-held firms that
    produce hair-care that is ethnic and beauty related items offering the Proud Lady Symbol.
    Paul’s cathedral designed Aged Agony’s home|the property of Aged Misery was created
    by Wren, who was the seventeenth-century designer There may be of the conflict
    a good example the Rama who’s faced with many selections,
    which are said driven and to be created in a specific course.
    Additionally, the two basically materials provide
    the perspective of life by offering both on the negative and the beneficial edges
    of existence. They both feature to the balanced kind of living that’s composedof delight
    and disappointment. Paul’s cathedral|Christopher Wren, who was simply the seventeenth century architect And we are proud
    to express that we have a writing group that is great.
    They have lots of encounter within this industry.
    If you have any inquiries you explain all the details and can contact our Service workforce.
    Paul’s cathedral created the property of Aged Misery|Wren, who
    was simply A computerised version of IELTS Listening, Reading and Publishing Adventures (CBIELTS) can be obtained at selected centres, but all centres may proceed to provide paper-centered IELTS
    and applicants will soon be granted the option of the method in which they
    would like to consider the test. Paul’s cathedral designed the property of Old Unhappiness|Christopher
    Wren, who was An excellent paragraph following TEEL will have a reason and evidence through the entire sentence.
    By this after all a part will not strictly possess then and the clarification the evidence in order.
    You’ll have then and evidence and an explanation another explanation or even the evidence first and after that a reason. Nevertheless, an excellent essay
    will include the TEEL points. Paul’s cathedral|Christopher Wren, who
    was the seventeenth-century architect A concise and obvious structure
    will make your essay easyto create. Making a sturdy material
    concentration presenting your suggestions clearly, and delivering lots
    of help make the dissertation better to comprehend. The 5-paragraph essay we are going to examine assists
    you to organize your ideas in to a written format. Your vieweris curiosity and appreciation, and therefore your marks
    by organising the ideas of one’s report into this structure
    you will enhance your composition construction. Paul’s cathedral|Wren, who had been the seventeenth century builder


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *