Different authors have presented their own interpretations and preferences for what shape the Caribbean identity should take, but amongst the more prominent Caribbean authors there are those who want the improvement of the self for the uplift of the institutions and those who have a more historically oriented view. Both Derek Walcott and Wilson Harris have a desire for broader integration and fulfilment, but although Derek Walcott wants those from the Caribbean to boldly cease looking to their past in order to embrace the future, Wilson Harris appears to be somewhat fearful. This essay presents an examination of the debates about the Caribbean identity that are apparent in Caribbean literature and the evolution of Caribbean literary aesthetics by examining selected works of Derek Walcott and Wilson Harris.
Caribbean literature has existed for centuries, but within the relatively recent past it has increased its worldwide acclaim and its mass of production. Both Derek Walcott and V. S. Naipaul were awarded the Nobel Prize in literature for their efforts which can be appreciated by anyone who has an interest in literature. Whereas Naipaul examines his Asian aspect of the Caribbean identity, Walcott presents a far more complex heritage and language in his poetry that presents the varied nuances of the Caribbean (Cudjoe, paragraph 23). Other writers have also made their contributions to the depiction of Caribbean aesthetics and culture by trying to define an identifiable cultural matrix within their works and some of the more prominent names that come to mind include Kamau Braithwaite, Erna Brodber, Wilson Harris and Olive Senior.
Aesthetics refers to the branch of philosophy that deals with beauty and taste (Merriam-Webster, “aesthetics”). Thus, Caribbean aesthetics refers to that which is considered as being beautiful and worthy of distinction in the Caribbean region, especially