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Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds$
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Lorna Hardwick and Carol Gillespie

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780199296101

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199296101.001.0001

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Imperial Reflections: the Post-Colonial Verse-Novel as Post-Epic

Imperial Reflections: the Post-Colonial Verse-Novel as Post-Epic

(p.157) 9 Imperial Reflections: the Post-Colonial Verse-Novel as Post-Epic1
Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds

Katharine Burkitt

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores the relationship between history and mythology in the post-colonial verse-novel, and argues that Derek Walcott’s Omeros and Bernardine Evaristo’s The Emperor’s Babe represent a post-epic that sits on the cusp on the genres of poem, novel, and epic. Evaristo and Walcott’s verse-novels question and restructure the epics that have shaped them from a post-colonial perspective, presenting a reciprocal vision of their contemporary worlds. In order to explore this theory more fully, this chapter discusses these post-epics as reworked versions of classical epic, and investigates the complex engagement with history and mythology which is inherent in the form. The paradoxical affiliation of these post-epics, which are polyglot post-colonial verse-novels, is compared to the structure of epic, as it is perceived as monolithic, most notably by theorists such as Mikhail Bakhtin and Erich Auerbach. It is therefore crucial to bear in mind that the post-epic is a response to their specifically modernist interpretation of epic, as well as a direct engagement with the genre.

Keywords:   verse-novels, post-epics, Derek Walcott, Bernardine Evaristo, Omeros, The Emperor’s Babe, mythology, epics

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