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Derek Walcott and the apple of his island

Burnett, Paula (1998) Derek Walcott and the apple of his island. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94248) (KAR id:94248)

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An overview of Derek Walcott’s poetry and drama is provided in two parts, with Shakespeare’s Tempest providing epigraphs for each chapter and the theme of the whole. The argument is that, like Gonzalo’s vision of commonwealth which is likened to an apple to be taken home in the pocket, Walcott offers his art to the world as the fruit of a distinctively Caribbean vision, in the faith that language can help to bring into being that of which it speaks. The Rastafarian pronoun ‘I-an-I’ is used to figure a fresh approach to identity, recognizing both difference and similitude. Particular use is made of Walcott’s own exposition of his thinking in his essays, public appearances and interviews, including broadcasts and unpublished interviews with the author, included as appendices. The first part focuses on ideology, the second on craft. In the first, four chapters investigate themes of identity, place and history, and culminate in a reading of Walcott as a mythopoeic writer engaged in a more political aesthetic project of counter-discourse than is often recognized. In the second part, an initial chapter on language is followed by a series of more detailed analyses of the crafting of particular works. His use of mythopoeic imagery and of intertextuality in his poetry is discussed. Other chapters evaluate several plays, drawing on drafts, revisions, and some unpublished scripts, as well as on published texts. Overall, poems and plays are discussed on an equal basis, as a counter to the tendency for them to be considered as radically distinct areas of endeavour, when in fact they have been synchronic, mutually involved and reciprocally reinforcing throughout a long career. The picture of Walcott which emerges is of an epic poet of remarkable gifts, applied simultaneously to the current political and cultural project and to the celebration of his heritage of place, people and language

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94248
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: Poetry; Drama
Subjects: M Music and Books on Music > ML Literature on music
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Arts and Humanities > School of English
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 07 Nov 2022 16:55 UTC
Last Modified: 18 Nov 2022 17:32 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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