The Foundational Generation

From The Beacon to Savacou

Authored by: Norval Edwards

The Routledge Companion to Anglophone Caribbean Literature

Print publication date:  June  2011
Online publication date:  June  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415485777
eBook ISBN: 9780203830352
Adobe ISBN: 9781136821745


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Modern anglophone Caribbean literature and criticism evolved within the historical and cultural contexts of colonialism, political and cultural decolonization, the dizzying dialectic of postcolonial dreams and disillusionments, and the dynamics of migration, displacement and diaspora. It is thus inextricably enmeshed in the cultural politics and thematic preoccupations pertaining to issues of identity (territorial-regional, national, aesthetic) representation, history and epistemology (Marquez 1989: 293). Indeed, its trajectory from the 1930s to the present has been largely dominated by a concern with imagining and authorizing an aesthetic founded on a politics of identity and difference, conceptualized as a response to the problem of colonialism, contextualized within the anti-colonial and early postcolonial conjuncture, and articulated in cultural nationalist terms that posit race and language as consanguineous figures of nation and history. The persistence and apparent ubiquity of cultural nationalist approaches has resulted in a scholarly consensus that Caribbean critical axioms largely conform, as Edward Baugh notes, to the ‘sociological-mimetic axis of literary theory’ (Baugh 1982: 3), a theory which Kenneth Ramchand has repeatedly disparaged as a ‘turn away from literariness, thus making itself almost indistinguishable from the sociology of literature’ (Ramchand 1988: 98).

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