‘So Differently from what the Heart Arranged’

Voices Under the Window, New Day and A Quality of Violence

Authored by: Victor L. Chang

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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It was V.S. Naipaul who made the point that the West Indian is living in a borrowed culture, and ‘more than most, needs writers to tell him who he is and where he stands’ (1969: 73). It could be argued that the three novels to be considered here, Victor Stafford Reid’s New Day (1949), John Hearne’s Voices Under The Window (1955) and Andrew Salkey’s A Quality of Violence (1959), demonstrate a clear nationalist impulse behind their composition. All three seem to have started with the intention of embedding in their fiction their notion of what Jamaica and Jamaicans should be. While such an agenda had historical force and value during this period, which strongly anticipated decolonization, it also meant that fiction was used for social, cultural and political ends. Fifty years or so later when this writing is re-examined, it can be seen to have serious flaws.

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