Introduction: Constructing the Countryside
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This book examines how the British countryside is portrayed in the works of Caribbean writers Jean Rhys, V.S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott, and Grace Nichols, as well as British-Caribbean “second generation” writers Andrea Levy, Caryl Phillips, and Charlotte Williams. I explore whether these authors have found a different rural landscape to the one their predecessors encountered; how Britain’s countryside is represented before the writers see it first-hand; and how differently the authors then construct the countryside afterwards. I find that previously held (colonial and postcolonial) views of Britain’s countryside influence these authors’ subsequent perspectives, sometimes reifying a traditional and exclusive view of Britain’s countryside, but also reframing our understanding of that countryside to admit a greater multivocality. This chapter begins an exploration of the complex relationship between a former great economic, social, and political power and the new world, with special regard to the social and the countryside in Britain today.