Derek Walcott:
Politics and Poetics

Paula Burnett

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"A long-overdue critical assessment of Walcott’s varied and extensive oeuvre. Its insightful readings and detailed historical and cultural context make it a must-read for students of contemporary Caribbean literature and culture."-- Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Vassar College

Paula Burnett offers a new interpretation of the life's work of acclaimed St. Lucian poet, playwright, and Nobel Prize winner Derek Walcott. Often regarded as the radical voice of the Third World, his drama and poetry together form a coherent project designed to create a legacy for modern Caribbean society. Illuminating his ideology and the technique that informs his writing, Burnett discusses his unique approach to myth, identity, and aesthetics.

In addition to his poetry, the book draws extensively on Walcott's essays, plays, broadcasts, private interviews, and public appearances, some previously unpublished or unrecorded. What emerges is the picture of an epic poet with remarkable gifts working to impart the distinctive wisdom of Caribbean culture--a politically aware writer celebrating his people, place, and language. Burnett also reveals an artist with a message to the world: that a positive sense of identity can be built out of negative circumstances like injustice and exploitation, if only creativity is mobilized.

The book serves as a critical study for more experienced scholars and as a solid introductory text for students of Walcott’s work. Its readable and well-organized style also makes it appealing to anyone with a general interest in poetry.

Paula Burnett, lecturer in English at Brunel University in London, is the editor of Caribbean Verse in English(1986). She is the author of numerous articles on Caribbean and other postcolonial literatures in publications such as Ariel and the Journal of Commonwealth Literature and is well known in the United Kingdom as a literary journalist.
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This ambitious book takes in the full corpus of Walcott; plays, essays, interviews, etc, as well as the poetry--and argues the essential unity of his (humanistic) vision.-- Wasafiri

"An important contribution to the study of Walcott's poetry and plays . . ." Modernism/Modernity

"Both a scholarly volume that will be well received by specialists and a book that should be of interest to any student of Walcott's literature." The Times of London (Higher Education Supplement)

"Burnett's book, in short, while also constituting a magnificent tribute to all those scholars and critics who have gone before her, is definitely one of the finest, most complexly grained, and critically imaginative claims for Walcott's significance." Agenda

"a model of economy and tight construction" "very good on Walcott's aesthetic and technical strategies, particularly the mythopoeic framework of his thought, and the epic form which he frequently employs." New West Indian Guide

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