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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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Arriving Backwards: the Return of The Odyssey in the English-Speaking Caribbean

Arriving Backwards: the Return of The Odyssey in the English-Speaking Caribbean

(p.192) 11 Arriving Backwards: the Return of The Odyssey in the English-Speaking Caribbean
Classics in Post-Colonial Worlds

Emily Greenwood

Oxford University Press

This chapter explores readings and counter-readings of Homer’s epic The Odyssey in the modern Caribbean. It looks at James Anthony Froude’s metaphorical appropriations, and then moves to discussion of Cyril Lionel Robert James and Derek Walcott, arguing that mythological imagination can constitute a form of knowledge which counters that of the imperial imagination in colonial literature. It reflects on Wilson Harris’s references to the ‘epic strategems available to Caribbean man in the dilemmas of history’ and explores the counter-intuitive idea of ‘arriving in a tradition’ that reorders ethnographic movements and thus sees past traditions as unfinished and carrying into the future. In this model, the Odyssey represents a process in which there is no going back, and in which Homer too has undergone a change-inducing journey. As Odysseus’s most famous stratagem at Troy, the ‘Trojan’ horse is also an excellent metaphor for the uses of Odysseus and The Odyssey in the Caribbean receptions discussed in this chapter.

Keywords:   Caribbean, James Anthony Froude, Derek Walcott, The Odyssey, colonial literature, epic, metaphor, Odysseus

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