Crossing Over and Shifting the Shapes: Sam Selvon’s Londoners
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Although a sense of the need to migrate clearly affected early writers born in the Caribbean such as the Jamaican Claude McKay, who left in 1912 for the United States, and the Trinidadian C. L. R. James, who arrived in Britain during the 1930s, the period immediately following the Second World War was particularly important for the arrival in London of a number of talented young West Indian artists. As Henry Swanzy, the producer of the influential BBC Radio programme Caribbean Voices observed, London had become a ‘literary headquarters’, a place where writers from the various islands were meeting for the first time and attempted, paradoxically perhaps, to establish a firm West Indian cultural identity. Yet, as he also notes, the imaginations of these writers were not formed within the ‘grey world city’; their ‘mental furniture was strangely different’.5 The status of London as such has always been a point of controversy in the criticism of postwar Caribbean literature.
KeywordsPrivate Identity Colonial Culture Discursive Field Middle Passage Imperial History
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