Postcolonial Odysseys: Derek Walcott's Voyages of Homecoming

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9781443828420: Postcolonial Odysseys: Derek Walcott's Voyages of Homecoming

'Postcolonial Odysseys: Derek Walcott's Voyages of Homecoming' highlights the importance of the trope of voyaging in Derek Walcott's poetics, primarily as it pertains to the poet's engagement with classical verse. Focusing specifically on the poet's engagement with Homeric myth, and 'The Odyssey' in particular, it articulates the manner in which Walcott's postcolonial reconfigurations of epic verse both highlight the endurance of the classics as well as demonstrating how cultural practices can remake and transform ancient texts. Concomitant with the poet's presentation of self as divided, this study traces opposing forces in operation within this trope: a centrifugal force that corresponds to the outward journey away from his island home in search of greater publishing opportunities and broader readerships, and a centripetal force corresponding to the return journey, or homecoming. The enabling potential of Greek myth is marked by a similar to-ing and fro-ing in Walcott's verse as he repeatedly engages with, and simultaneously disavows, Homeric configurations. Insisting on the reciprocal nature of poetic appropriation, the act of rewriting also signalling new ways of rereading, Walcott's appropriations effectively enter into a critical dialogue with Homeric verse. Further depth to Walcott's rewriting of Homer is provided by an analysis of the mediating influence of Euro-American modernism. Through an examination of the postcolonial aftermath of modernism, it challenges the perceived exclusivity of each, illustrating this premise through case studies of Walcott's relation to both Romare Bearden and James Joyce. This study is therefore interdisciplinary and inter-artistic in nature, transgressing the borderline between poetry and prose, and that of literary and artistic disciplines. Highlighting the permeability of such boundaries, it investigates the journey of Odysseus, as prototypical wanderer, through time and space, from oral to print culture, from word to image.

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About the Author:

Dr. Maeve Tynan lectures in the Department of English in Mary Immaculate College, University of Limerick. Her research focuses on postcolonial theory, contemporary Caribbean poetry and Irish Studies.

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Maeve Tynan
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