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West Indian literature - Essay Example

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Today, the West Indian literature is a universally acclaimed literary phenomenon, and the critics recognize without any scruples, the variegated richness and charm of the West Indian expression. In fact, the early voices in the West Indian literature furnish a relevant and valid insight into the evolution of West Indian life and in a way are a reliable compilation of the actual exchange of ideas taking place in the West Indian, social, cultural and literary life (Brathwaite 24). A majority of the early West Indian literature not only accommodates the social and political issues that commanded an above average importance in the region, but is also a credible anthology of black culture and the exiles' sentiment (Brathwaite 31). The criticism and recognition of the early West Indian literature marks the creation of a novel organ of social and literary discourse. The founding voices in the West Indian literature tend to strive for the compilation of a shared language of the soul that could reflect and express the essential West Indian consciousness and definitely, the works of Saint-John Perse, Claude McKay and Una Marson yearn to extend such a vision of the Caribbean.Saint-John Perse was actually a French Diplomat and poet who assumed this pseudonym to keep secret his literary endeavours. Most of the poems composed by Perse seem to be preoccupied with the issue of cultural belonging. Sharing the early exiles' history of transportation and deracination, the poems written by Perse relentlessly strive to come out with re-carved and re-formulated models of racial and cultural identity (Munro 2). The fact that is most fundamental to the works of Saint-John Perse is that they regard colonial displacement as not being an irredeemable and irreversible blow to the poet's culture of origin, but as an immense source of enrichment and accentuation of his French identity (Munro 4). In fact, the poetic works of Perse like 'Anabase' and 'Exile' profess such an accommodating and all encompassing vision of identity that vacillated somewhere between the native Caribbean concerns and an altered, but discernibly French approach towards the issue of identity. There is no denying the fact that repeatedly, the perpetual conflict going on between a desire for racial purity and the need for an amalgamation with the native culture is oft accentuated to the extent of appearing neurotic in Perse's works (Munro 5). In fact, this conflict represents the continual tussle existing between the poet's need for fixity and his urge for movement, which renders a vision of the Caribbean that is an exile and a native at the same time (Sander 56).
Claude McKay was an American poet of Jamaican origin who wrote poetry that dealt with the issues pertaining to spiritual liberation and the universality of social, moral, cultural and political values (Cohassey 2). Deeply disturbed by the prejudices and barriers existing against the African Americans, the poetry of McKay gives vent to the poet's feelings of frustration and at the same time tries to beckon the masses to raise their voice against the brutal and debilitating impact of racism in a white dominated social set up (Cohassey 3). McKay's poem 'Red Scare' protests against the violence unleashed by the US government against the domestic radicals in 1919 and his work 'If we must Die' actually incites the masses to start a universal movement against oppression (Cohassey 4). Thus, McKay's vision of the Caribbean smacks of a contemporary reaction against racial oppression, which relies for inspiration and energy on the poet's native, West Indian primitivism (Sander 47).
Una Marson was the first Caribbean female poet that brought in the element of feminism to the till now, essentially patriarchal West Indian Literature. The basic irony associated with the West Indian literature had been that though it bemoaned the ideological and racial ...Show more
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Today, the West Indian literature is a universally acclaimed literary phenomenon, and the critics recognize without any scruples, the variegated richness and charm of the West Indian expression. …
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