Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Wilson Harris’s first published novel appeared in 1960, when he was thirty-nine years old. Before that time, his creative efforts were mainly in poetry, which, given the poetic prose of his novels, is not surprising. He published a few volumes of poems, including Fetish (1951), issued under the pseudonym Kona Waruk, and Eternity to Season (1954). Although the first collection is perceived as apprentice material, the second is generally praised and seen as complementary to Harris’s early novels; it anticipates the novels’ symbolic use of the Guyanese landscape to explore the various antinomies that shape the artist and the community. Harris has also published two volumes of short stories: The Sleepers of Roraima (1970), with three stories; and The Age of the Rainmakers (1971), with four. These stories are drawn from the myths and legends of the aborigines of the Guyanese hinterland. Harris does not simply relate the myths and legends; as in his novels, he imbues them with symbolic and allegorical significance.

Conscious of how unconventional and difficult his novels are, Harris has attempted to elucidate his theories of literature in several critical works. His language in these publications, however, is as densely metaphorical as in his novels. Harris’s ideas are outlined in Tradition, the Writer, and Society (1967), a group of short exploratory essays on the West Indian novel, and History, Fable,...

(The entire section is 464 words.)