What would be a postcolonial perspective on the work of Derek Walcott?

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Jessica Pope | College Teacher | (Level 1) Educator

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Derek Walcott is a St. Lucian-born poet, novelist, and literary critic. His work is deeply influenced by both British and West Indian literary traditions. A postcolonial perspective of Walcott's work would highlight the ways in which he creatively draws upon the diverse resources of this dual tradition in order to reveal, explore, and celebrate the unique culture and experiences of a historically oppressed and colonized people.  

Walcott's poetry offers rich and profound re-imaginings of the colonial past. In his epic novel-poem Omeros, for example, Walcott offers a re-telling of the Greek classic The Illiad. In Walcott's version however, the story takes place on a lush, vividly depicted ancient Trinidad. In re-telling The Illiad from this imagined space, Walcott brings the entire history of Western literature to bear upon questions of race, colonial history, culture, and authenticity.

Walcott's works often depict imagined precolonial times and places. These settings are narrative resources that Walcott uses in order to make statements pertaining to postcolonial culture and life. A postcolonial perspective on his work would highlight Walcott's use of setting as a narrative device. Such a perspective might also examine Walcott's treatment of themes such as religion, family, and personal transformation in light of postcolonial politics. 

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