Afro-Greeks: Dialogues between Anglophone Caribbean by Emily Greenwood

By Emily Greenwood

Afro-Greeks examines the reception of Classics within the English-speaking Caribbean, from approximately 1920 to the start of the twenty first century. Emily Greenwood specializes in the ways that Greco-Roman antiquity has been positioned to artistic use in Anglophone Caribbean literature, and relates this neighborhood classical culture to the academic context, in particular the way Classics was once taught within the colonial institution curriculum. Discussions of Caribbean literature are likely to imagine an opposed dating among Classics, that's taken care of as a legacy of empire, and Caribbean literature. whereas acknowledging this imperial and colonial backstory, Greenwood argues that Caribbean writers similar to Kamau Brathwaite, C. L. R. James, V. S. Naipaul, and Derek Walcott have effectively appropriated Classics and tailored it to the cultural context of the Caribbean, making a precise, neighborhood tradition.

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I suggest that accounts of Classics in the colonial curriculum correspond broadly to three tropes: ‘Contesting the Curriculum’, ‘Afro-Romans and Imperial Redistribution’, and ‘Finding one’s Own Way in Classics’. Taking each trope in turn, I examine a range of works including V. S. Naipaul’s Miguel Street (1959), C. L. R. James’s Beyond a Boundary (1963), Eric Williams’s autobiography Inward Hunger (1969), Austin Clarke’s Growing up Stupid under the Union Jack (1980), and selected poems by Howard Fergus and E.

4 Snead [1984] 1990, especially p. 67. 22 An Accidental Homer of black culture is a useful frame for this chapter, which seeks to explain how contingent readings of the Caribbean via the Odyssey, or ‘accidents of Homeric reception’, have been assimilated to broader patterns in Caribbean culture. 9 Fermor’s account offers us an 5 All quotations from this work in the following discussion are taken from the 2005 paperback edition published by John Murray (Fermor [1950] 2005). 6 Labat 1722 and Hearn [1890] 2001.

18 Introduction contribution to the study of variant cosmopolitanisms in the contemporary global academy. Focusing on the poetry of the Jamaican poet John Figueroa, who many critics have identified as an important precursor for the New World classicism in Walcott’s poetry, I explore the contradiction that his cosmopolitan vision of a Caribbean literature that networks all the region’s cultures and languages has been completely neglected by the same postcolonial canon that has celebrated Walcott.

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