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Walcott, Derek

LAURENCE A. BREINER

Subject Imperial, Colonial, and Postcolonial History » Postcolonial History

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781444334982.2016.x


Extract

Author of more than 20 plays and nearly the same number of volumes of poetry, the 1992 Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott (born 1930) is both the most distinguished poet and the most prolific playwright from the Anglophone Caribbean. Walcott grew up in Castries, the capital town of the small British colony of Saint Lucia (617 sq. km; population in 1930, 57,000). Having been passed back and forth between France and Britain more than a dozen times, the island's metropolitan loyalties were not strong – there was little of the imperial patriotism that one finds in Jamaica and Barbados, stable British colonies for over 300 years. That history, along with the island's size, meant that decolonization looked different from this vantage. Though Walcott lived through the transition from colonialism, through the nationalist period, to independence, his experience of the explicitly political process was less immediate and less engaged than that of his contemporaries in larger islands like Jamaica or Trinidad (though he lived in both for extended periods). There is for example relatively little attention to the failure of the Federation of the West Indies (1958–62). As a result, Walcott addresses throughout his career various issues associated with decolonization, but does so from a distinctive perspective, determined by his specific location and personal history. Colonization and decolonization, ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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