In the Castle of My Skin

by George Lamming

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Critical Context (Critical Guide to British Fiction)

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Last Updated on May 6, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 190

Lamming himself has noted that In the Castle of My Skin, his first novel, is a key book in the literature of the English Caribbean. He thinks that its universal appeal is based on some connecting link between the readers’ experience and that of the novel, since everybody (“or nearly everybody,” Lamming says) has a childhood and an adolescence.

One notion of Lamming’s work (also echoed by the author) is that all of his fiction constitutes a single, slowly unfolding story. In such a scheme, In the Castle of My Skin would appear first, with its focus on the growing-up phase, the first steps of a journey taken to seek fulfillment. The realization of the world seen through the boys in this work is followed in subsequent works by the wider experiences of characters in search of their own significance: in England as emigrants; in the independence-era Caribbean; in modern London; in a myth-hazed seventeenth century reverie in Natives of My Person (1972), in which the journey toward completion of self goes forward by making a complete return to the beginnings of “new world” experience linking Africans, Indians, and Europeans.

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