Postscripts: Caribbean Perspectives on the British Canon from Shakespeare to Dickens

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By adopting a Caribbean perspective through which to re-examine seventeenth- to nineteenth-century texts from the British canon, this collection of essays uncovers the ways in which the literature produced at the height of British imperialism was used to consolidate and validate the national identity of the colonizer, and to justify political and cultural domination of Other places like the Caribbean.

The contributors critique a wide range of verse and prose from the works of Shakespeare, Donne, Defoe, Austen, Bronte, Froude, Kingsley, Trollope, Jenkins, Stevenson, Barrie, Carroll and Dickens, revealing a literature that was very much a product of its time, but that was also responsible for contemporary and later conceptions of the Caribbean and other outposts of empire. While the critics in this volume demonstrate how such texts constructed and perpetuated the "fact" of superior British culture and civilization, they also apply to their literary interpretation a Caribbean experience of challenges associated with nation-building and identity formation. The contributors examine English literary excursions into nationhood, self-definition, freedom and confinement, and engagements with the Other - the very issues through which the Caribbean has grown into being.

In revealing the complex but familiar insecurities and challenges through which English literature evolved to canonicity, Postscripts follows Barbara Lalla's Postcolonialisms , which offered Caribbean re-readings of English medieval verse. Like that earlier study, Postscripts addresses both scholars of English literature and literary history, and those of Caribbean and postcolonial studies, and speaks to a wide readership that spans cultures sharing a colonized or colonizing past.

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University of the West Indies Press
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