Edward Brathwaite Introduction - Essay

Introduction

Brathwaite, Edward 1930–

Brathwaite is a Barbadian poet, playwright, editor, historian, and critic. His novels are united by a thematic concern with the West Indian black's quest for an identity. (See also Contemporary Authors, Vols. 25-28, rev. ed.)

[Rights of Passage reminds] one of the difficulty of all long poems: how to control pace, mood and matter consistently enough to hold the reader's attention….

[Brathwaite's] theme is that of the West Indian, modern and ancestral, in slavery, emigrating, suffering, resilient but melancholy. It is potentially a striking and exciting theme, but Mr. Brathwaite's technique and verbal control do not match his ambition. One can imagine that it might—given the right voice, the right production, and the right mood—make a powerful radio performance, at least in part: but it makes very flat reading on the page. (p. 125)

The Times Literary Supplement (© Times Newspapers Ltd. (London) 1967; reproduced from The Times Literary Supplement by permission), February 16, 1967.