Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D'Aguiar: by Abigail Ward

By Abigail Ward

Slavery is a routine topic in works via the modern black writers in Britain Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D'Aguiar, but their go back to this prior arises from an pressing have to comprehend the racial anxieties of 20th- and twenty-first-century Britain. Now to be had in paperback, this publication examines the ways that their literary explorations of slavery may possibly make clear present concerns in Britain this day, or what could be considered the continued legacies of the UK's mostly forgotten slave past.

In this hugely unique examine of latest postcolonial literature, Ward explores a number novels, poetry and non-fictional works with a view to examine their artistic responses to the slave earlier. this can be the 1st research to concentration completely on British literary representations of slavery, and thoughtfully engages with such notions because the ethics of exploring slavery, the reminiscence and trauma of this earlier, and the issues of taking a merely old method of Britain's involvement in slavery or Indian indenture. even supposing all 3 authors are desirous about the matter of the way to start representing slavery, their techniques to this challenge fluctuate immensely, and this booklet investigates those variations.

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Extra resources for Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D'Aguiar: Representations of slavery

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Yet, only the history of the slave owner has traditionally been recorded, which has proved problematic for those exploring the history of subaltern, or oppressed, groups. In Cambridge, Phillips suggests that narratives such as those by Emily or Cambridge are overlapping fragments of an untotalisable past and should be read alongside one another, or contrapuntally. His apparent disinterest in paraphrasing perhaps more subtly his sources, or blending the conflicting accounts, can be seen as a refusal to create one homogeneous version of the slave past, instead emphasising its polyphony.

The promise of freedom had lured them to the British side … The promise was kept. ’2 As one of the leading characters in Phillips’s version of Rough Crossings (though a decidedly minor one in Schama’s), the freed slave Thomas Peters, reasons: ‘In America we fight and we kill for them. ’3 We might detect a link here between Britain’s use of black American men to fight as British soldiers in the American War of Independence, and the mobilisation of black men and women from its colonies during the Second World War.

This flawed expectation of the leading narrative voice is typical of Phillips who, throughout the text, creates and positions characters who appear to conform to his readers’ expectations, only to confound these expectations with figures that cannot be simply read or understood. As an anglicised African, Cambridge’s voice is indicative of such a tactic of flawed expectations, in his refusal to conform to an ‘authentic’ African voice. Emily, an unmarried middle-class woman at the start of the nineteenth century, also subverts standard expectations by becoming pregnant.

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