A study of the multicultural, multilingual, and Creolized languages that characterize Caribbean discourse, especially as reflected in the language choices that preoccupy creative writers
Caribbean Literary Discourse opens the challenging world of language choices and literary experiments characteristic of the multicultural and multilingual Caribbean. In these societies, the language of the master— English in Jamaica and Barbados—overlies the Creole languages of the majority. As literary critics and as creative writers, Barbara Lalla, Jean D’Costa, and Velma Pollard engage historical, linguistic, and literary perspectives to investigate the literature bred by this complex history. They trace the rise of local languages and literatures within the English speaking Caribbean, especially as reflected in the language choices of creative writers.
The study engages two problems: first, the historical reality that standard metropolitan English established by British colonialists dominates official economic, cultural, and political affairs in these former colonies, contesting the development of vernacular, Creole, and pidgin dialects even among the region’s indigenous population; and second, the fact that literary discourse developed under such conditions has received scant attention.
Caribbean Literary Discourse explores the language choices that preoccupy creative writers in whose work vernacular discourse displays its multiplicity of origins, its elusive boundaries, and its most vexing issues. The authors address the degree to which language choice highlights political loyalties and tensions; the politics of identity, self-representation, and nationalism; the implications of code-switching—the ability to alternate deliberately between different languages, accents, or dialects—for identity in postcolonial society; the rich rhetorical and literary effects enabled by code-switching and the difficulties of acknowledging or teaching those ranges in traditional education systems; the longstanding interplay between oral and scribal culture; and the predominance of intertextuality in postcolonial and diasporic literature.
List of TablesAcknowledgmentsIntroductionPart I. Fusing Forms and Languages: The Jamaican Experience1. Songs in the Silence: Literary Craft as Survival in Eighteenth-Century Jamaica by Jean D'Costa2. Black Wholes: Phases in the Development of Jamaican Literary Discourse by Barbara Lalla3. The Caribbean Novelist and Language: A Search for a Literary Medium by Jean D'Costa4. To Us, All Flowers Are Roses: Writing Ourselves into the Literature of the Caribbean by Velma Pollard5. Creole and Respec': Authority and Identity in the Development of Caribbean Literary Discourse by Barbara LallaPart II. Language and Discourse in Caribbean Literary Texts6. Bra Rabbit Meets Peter Rabbit: Genre, Audience, and the Artistic Imagination—Problems in Writing Children's Fiction by Jean D'Costa7. "The Dust": A Tribute to the Folk by Velma Pollard8. Collapsing Certainty and the Discourse of Re-Memberment in the Novels of Merle Hodge by Barbara Lalla9. Cultural Connections in Paule Marshall's Praise Song for the Widow by Velma Pollard10. Louise Bennett's Dialect Poetry: Language Variation in a Literary Text by Jean D'Costa11. Conceptual Perspectives on Time and Timelessness in Martin Carter's "University of Hunger" by Barbara Lalla12. Mixing Codes and Mixing Voices: Language in Earl Lovelace's Salt by Velma Pollard13. Opening Salt: The Oral-Scribal Continuum in Caribbean Narrative by Barbara Lalla14. Mothertongue Voices in the Writing of Olive Senior and Lorna Goodison by Velma Pollard15. The Facetiness Factor: Theorizing Caribbean Space in Narrative by Barbara LallaBibliographyIndex
Barbara Lalla is an emerita professor of language and literature in the Department of Liberal Arts at the University of the West Indies at St. Augustine, Trinidad and Tobago. She has written two novels as well as Postcolonialisms: Caribbean Rereading of Medieval English Discourse and Defining Jamaican Fiction: Marronage and the Discourse of Survival.
Jean D’Costa, Leavenworth Professor Emerita of Literature at Hamilton College, is a critic and children’s novelist. Lalla and D’Costa coauthored Language in Exile: Three Hundred Years of Jamaican Creole.
Velma Pollard is a retired senior lecturer in language education at the University of the West Indies at Mona, Jamaica. She is an authority on Rastafarian language and the author of a novel, two collections of short fiction, and five books of poetry. Her novella Karl won the Casa de las Americas Literary Prize in 1992.
“This excellent collection marries the analytic skills of three linguists with their competencies in literary criticism and makes a much-needed contribution to uncovering the extraordinary wealth of Caribbean literary discourse. The writers’ sensitivity to the topic of discourse and orthographic choice gains insight from the creative authorial experience of the three scholars.” —Maureen Warner-Lewis, author of Trinidad Yoruba: From Mother Tongue to Memory
“This volume is both timely and marketable. Particular strengths include the historical/developmental focus, the analysis of language in literature, the combination of a wide overview of issues like orality and literacy, and changing attitudes towards the use of Creole in writing.” —Susanne Mühleisen, author of Creole Discourse: Exploring Prestige Formation and Change across Caribbean English-Lexicon Creoles