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Derek Walcott : the development of a rooted vision (poetry and drama)

Ismond, P. A (1974) Derek Walcott : the development of a rooted vision (poetry and drama). Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86366) (KAR id:86366)


Since his first publications in the late forties, Derek Waleott has made a remarkable achievement as poet and dramatist. This thesis aims to trace his development towards a native vision in the corpus It covers Walcott's published works in poetry and drama from 1949 to 1972. Another Life (New York, 1973), the latest book of poetry which establishes Walcott as a major writer on the world scene, was published too late to be included in this investigation. It was, however, consulted as work in progress, am bears upon our analysis at several important points. Walcott evolves towards a vision of the region as an integral cultural entity whose destiny is in a renascence of the myth-making Imagination. It must start from an elemental self-exploration to fulfil the original purpose of such a role: to arrive at self-awareness in inventing new names for its new angst and aspirations. Roth the need and potential for this renascence derive from history. The dislocations and abnegations of history have left Caribbean man a reduced, isolated figure in the New World. It is a position which returns him to the primal. In dislocating the peoples of the region from their parent myths, however, history has left the vestigial traces of these myths reduced to their essentials. This combines with the closeness to the elemental to make the sense of the archetypal immanent in the New World setting. This means in essence that Wa1cott sees a native rehabilitation solely in terms of a self-dependent effort. It cannot be in terms of the recovery of the spiritual heritage of any parent tradition, such as the AfrIcan. The routes which the myth-making Imagination must traverse preclude any such single orientation. In ''What the Twilight Says", the classic essay which prefaces Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays vi (New York, 1970), he expresses it thus: ". the darkness must be total, and the cave should not contain a single man-made, mnemonic object" (p.5). Placing emphasis on the self-creative effort, Walcott stands mainly for a critical attitude towards the shortcomings of his society, rather than a position of protest. His words in ''What the Twilight Says" show how consistent this approach is with the vision outlined above. It is not merely the debt of history, Walcott explains, which is Caribbean man's claim to the New World, but the spiritual revelation to be attained in his effort to "name" his own modes of experience (p.l7). It is through his own self-exploration that Walcott arrives at these definitions. He starts with a keen sense of the denials of history. As the young colonial artist nurtured on Western tradition, he is confounded in his effort to identify the conflict in the master's terms. Overcoming this, he moves into a period of intense self-exploration to discover the true sources of the predicament in his unique circumstances. Walcott is dependent on the elemental principles of Mind for this effort, and it gives rise to overreaching strains. But he has identified a native image in the process and found his bearings for resolving the residual conflicts of the effort, coming to terms with them, he is able to "name" the destiny of the region, and articulate a native myth. The pattern of this development is parallel in the poetry and the drama, which are complementary to each other in a unified achievement, The two are dealt with separately in this work: Part I deals with the poetry, and Part II, the drama. Thus treated, the complementary pattern between them is focussed more clearly. The emphasis in Walcott is on the individual effort. What emerges in his creative self-exploration in the poetry is authenticated in the original experience of the environment featured in the drama. This pivots on one essential link between the two. Walcott's persona dominates the poetry. In the drama, his main heroes are drawn from the most deprived and representative areas of experience in the region. They represent a pattern of experience which emerges as the direct counterpart to Walcott's own in the poetry - thus showing the rootedness of the vision.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.86366
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Uncontrolled keywords: Literature
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PR English literature
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 29 Oct 2019 16:54 UTC
Last Modified: 23 Feb 2022 11:38 UTC
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