Open Access (free)
West Indian intellectual
Helen Carr

Samuel Beckett, it is said, when asked in Paris on one occasion if he were English, replied unequivocally, ‘ au contraire ’. Jean Rhys might have said much the same. If she was sure about her identity in any way, it was in her certainty that she was not English – ‘pseudo-English’ at the most, as she puts in her memoir, Smile Please . 1 But what was she? In what sense

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Editor:

Caribbean migration to Britain brought many new things—new music, new foods, new styles. It brought new ways of thinking too. This book explores the intellectual ideas that the West Indians brought with them to Britain. It shows that, for more than a century, West Indians living in Britain developed a dazzling intellectual critique of the codes of Imperial Britain. Chapters discuss the influence of, amongst others, C. L. R. James, Una Marson, George Lamming, Jean Rhys, Claude McKay and V. S. Naipaul. The contributors draw from many different disciplines to bring alive the thought and personalities of the figures they discuss, providing a picture of intellectual developments in Britain from which we can still learn much. The introduction argues that the recovery of this Caribbean past, on the home territory of Britain itself, reveals much about the prospects of multiracial Britain.

Open Access (free)
Crossing the seas
Bill Schwarz

peers. Third, we need to reflect on the particular forms of knowledge which were produced. Here, as an example, we can turn to Jean Rhys. 64 Rhys does not sit comfortably in any given political tradition nor – given the fact that she was white – is she easily accommodated into any larger Caribbean collective. The degree to which her work can claim any West Indian

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Open Access (free)
Sue Thomas

represented as a sign of maturity. Naipaul tends to praise in West Indian novels what confirms his world-view and to interpret them through it. For instance, his assessment of Jean Rhys in 1971, important for placing her as West Indian, emphasises the senses of exile and the psychological shipwreck of ‘dependence and defeat’, the ‘woman’s half-world’ of her protagonists. He commends Rhys for being ‘above

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Open Access (free)
The predicament of history
Bill Schwarz

incorporate the formerly-enslaved and colonised. There were many strands to this intellectual movement, which shouldn’t be conflated. For our purposes, though, we might point to the personal and intellectual connections established between the West Indian migrants in Britain and, to put this loosely, non-British cultures of thought. The controversial estimations of Jean Rhys’s commitments to a heterodox

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Louis James

was a personal refusal to be part of a Caribbean ‘movement’, rather than Indian ethnicity, that kept V. S. Naipaul and Sam Selvon out of CAM. Similarly those representing the light-skinned Caribbean creoles, including John Hearne, 51 and – as is discussed elsewhere in this volume, Jean Rhys 52 – tended to be excluded. The earlier CAM discussions reflected a male dominance until in 1970 Merle Hodge

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain