Afro-Greeks: Dialogues between Anglophone Caribbean by Emily Greenwood

By Emily Greenwood

Afro-Greeks examines the reception of Classics within the English-speaking Caribbean, from approximately 1920 to the start of the twenty first century. Emily Greenwood makes a speciality of the ways that Greco-Roman antiquity has been positioned to inventive use in Anglophone Caribbean literature, and relates this nearby classical culture to the tutorial context, in particular the best way Classics was once taught within the colonial tuition curriculum. Discussions of Caribbean literature are inclined to imagine an adversarial courting among Classics, that's handled as a legacy of empire, and Caribbean literature. whereas acknowledging this imperial and colonial backstory, Greenwood argues that Caribbean writers corresponding to Kamau Brathwaite, C. L. R. James, V. S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott have effectively appropriated Classics and tailored it to the cultural context of the Caribbean, making a particular, nearby tradition.

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A brief digression on Froude will reveal the differing projections that the two travel writers put upon the landscape and the differing significance of the Odyssean motif in their narratives. 29 In fact, the metaphor of the bow does duty for a series of relationships. In the first instance, ‘Ulysses’ is England, out at sea due to the parliamentary movement, fronted by William Gladstone, to give Home Rule to Ireland. Although Gladstone’s Home Rule Bill (moved on 8 April 1886) had been defeated by the time Froude travelled in the Caribbean, the spectre of Irish Home Rule clearly haunts Froude in this work.

It is common practice to identify this mythical approach to history with T. S. Eliot’s ‘mythical method’ and the broader distaste for history in high modernism. Although Eliot and other American and European modernist writers have been influential in Caribbean letters, to explain the Caribbean negotiation of history via the imagination in terms of modernism is to confuse medium with cause; modernism is just one of the many strategies translation activities of a country’s diaspora’ (using ‘translation’ in the broadest sense).

The fact that James had been Williams’s mentor shows up the divergence in the ways in which the two men appealed to Athens and the divergent conclusions that they drew from their study of the past. In turn, I argue that this divergence illustrates the complex cultural politics of appropriating the past. e. to serve the national self) in the Caribbean by pointing to the kind of colonial fictions that Naipaul exposes in A Bend in the River (see p. ’55 And yet, for James’s and Williams’s purposes in the political arena, they could not afford to expose the illusions and half-fictions in their own appropriations of the ancient Greek past, thereby undermining their commitment to the openness of Athenian democratic culture, which was one of the features that they championed when positing analogies between Athens and popular political participation in Trinidad.

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