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English do not uniformly indulge a patriotic racism and imperial nostalgia or play to persistent racial stereotypes of non-white peoples in England. His conservatism, too, is characterised by deeply conflicted attitudes to liberal principles with respect to racial issues and histories. Notes 1 V. S. Naipaul, ‘Our universal

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
Editor: Bill Schwarz

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.

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Crossing the seas

unsettled every aspect of ‘the British way’ in its Caribbean transplantations. The institutions of British culture, irredeemably syncretic, could never boast that taken-for-granted quality that they possessed on their home ground. Even when working to their fullest authority and effect, at any instant they could be experienced as second-hand or inauthentic. In one of his fictional voices, V. S. Naipaul

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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Visions of history, visions of Britain

richness. ‘I was moved by the fact that such a man came from something like my own background… How, considering when he was born, had he become the man he was? How had he preserved his soul through all the discouragements of the colonial time?’ 9 V. S. Naipaul poses these questions of his ‘Lebrun’, a fictional character who is largely modelled on James. Their point is that, in the light of Naipaul’s

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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? In V. S. Naipaul’s Mimic Men the father of the narrator walks out of his job at the Department of Education on the imagined locale of Isabella in order to become a millenarian street-preacher and agitator in the dock-strike of the late 1930s. His son, who narrates the story, was (we learn) deeply affected by this collapse in his family circumstances and thereafter proved to be duly sceptical of

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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creation of intellectual traditions always involves inclusions and exclusions, remembering some and forgetting others. Roots ‘are not hallowed artefacts shrouded in mystery, but rather we seem continually to dig them up according to our needs at particular points in time’. 6 While James sought a tradition of struggle for freedom as characteristically West Indian, his fellow Trinidadian, V. S. Naipaul

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
The BBC’s Caribbean Voices

, 24 October 1992. 15 Arthur Calder-Marshall, Glory Dead (London: Michael Joseph, 1939), pp. 12 and 100. The title comes from an old local song. It re-emerges later in V. S. Naipaul: ‘The history I carried with me, together with the self-awareness that had come with my education and ambition, had sent me into the world with

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain

Lamming in The Pleasures of Exile had called the ‘phenomenon’ of postwar Caribbean literature in English 7 was well under way. Samuel Selvon’s A Brighter Sun (1952), George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin (1953), Wilson Harris’s Palace of the Peacock (1960), V. S. Naipaul’s A House for Mr Biswas (1960) and Derek Walcott’s

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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West Indian intellectual

heritage by starting to write in French. More direct comparisons with other West Indian writers have been made by Evelyn O’Callaghan. Jamaica Kincaid, V. S. Naipaul and Caryl Phillips, she points out, are all emigrant writers, Phillips ‘arriv[ing] in England “at the portable age” of one’. 5 They too have written fiction that does not have a Caribbean setting. Yet their right to be called West Indian

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain
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Feminism, anti-colonialism and a forgotten fight for freedom

as Roger Mais and Victor Stafford Reid. We might also think of the BBC’s Caribbean Voices which provided a much needed outlet, as well as a valuable source of income, for new writers and writings, and also, of course, of the talented community of male writers and intellectuals, such as George Lamming, Sam Selvon and V. S. Naipaul, who had come to London in the 1950s. Yet what is so commonly neglected in

in West Indian intellectuals in Britain