Symbolic Cities in Caribbean Literature

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9780230612181: Symbolic Cities in Caribbean Literature
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This incisive comparative study analyzes Caribbean literary representations of magic and invisible cities in new and exciting ways. In a comprehensive approach, Winks’ study ranges from literary portraits of El Dorado, to the remembered holy cities in African-based New World religions, to the secret Havanas of modern Cuban literature. Grounded in the visionary poetics of Caribbean creative writers/theorists, this book explores various cross-lingual and cross-cultural strands in the Caribbean counterpoint, with particular attention to the creative exploration and reworking of the notion of the city as both instituted social space and imaginary community. It also deals with the treatment of the utopian dimension as a space of hope against heritages of enslavement, colonial oppression, and postcolonial anomie. The study will be of interest to scholars of comparative literature, Caribbean and Latin American studies, inter-American poetics, and the African diasporas.

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About the Author:

Christopher Winks is Assistant Professor of Comparative Literature at Queens College/The City University of New York. A scholar of comparative modernisms, with particular emphasis on Caribbean and Latin American literature and African-American studies, he has published numerous articles in journals and anthologies.

Review:

“We have in Winks' Symbolic Cities in Caribbean Literature a remarkable, almost encyclopedic, encounter and literary elucidation of intense and salient aspects of Caribbean culture in all its variety, resulting in a major contribution to Caribbean hermeneutics and thinking.”--Kamau Brathwaite, New York University

 

“Winks’ symbolic ‘cities’ are culturally imagined places, myths, where people come, exchange and live together (expansively or oppressively—notable ones being Soninke Wagadu and Euro-American El Dorado) to establish, or try to establish, one reality from many localities...Here and in like places such ‘magic’ cities are figures tying myth to local history and the experience of colonial oppression to the creation of a (potentially) new cultural actuality, ultimately portraying the establishment of a ‘new’ Caribbean culture and its difficult removal from the impress of colonial hegemony. Symbolic Cities is a superb piece of scholarly research and literary analysis, a major contribution to Caribbean criticism, rooted in Caribbean theoretical understanding, historical sensibility and situation and political commitment, even as it is embedded in wider global considerations.”--Timothy J. Reiss, New York University

 

“If scope and precision, the use of detail to illuminate the whole, are signs of a Renaissance mind, then Winks’ mind is Renaissance. His Symbolic Cities in Caribbean Literature deals vastly and simultaneously with the City as Utopia, as an established real space to a living community, and as an imaginary construction where the modern aspiration of conviviality as plurality, social harmony through differences, differences as stimulus for the creation of a more serene and radiant space can come true. Ezra Pound, centering in an old Chinese tradition, told us to ‘Make it New.’ Winks, in this seminal book, destined to be read for many decades by all serious students of the City, has performed a necessary feat that calls not only for a new perception of his subject matter, but also for the need to ‘Make it Whole.’ Symbolic Cities in Caribbean Literature is the work of a vast and serene intelligence at the service of a feasible Utopia, a place where human beings can hope to live a better and more perfectible life, so that the imagination can devote itself to the pursuit of knowledge and shared happiness.”—José Kozer

 

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