Derek Walcott

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Twayne, 1993 - Literary Criticism - 199 pages
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Since Robert D. Hamner's first edition of this study of Derek Walcott appeared in 1981, the great West Indian dramatist and poet has published a new collection of plays and five additional poetry volumes - including the acclaimed book-length poem Omeros (1990). Winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1992, Walcott has won international recognition during the past decade, showing himself to be, as Hamner demonstrates in these meticulous readings of all his major works, "provocative, stimulating, one of the most complete poets now writing in the English language."
Hamner sets the geographical, cultural, and literary contexts for Walcott's achievement, establishing themes that flow throughout this chronological study as Walcott travels between the Caribbean and the U.S., crossing boundaries of race and region. Advancing the tradition of other Caribbean poets Saint-John Perse and Aime Cesaire, Hamner shows, Walcott has developed his native land's vast poetic resources to a level that transcends regional labels: he pursues the roots of his ancestry in all directions, masters classical high seriousness as well as the earthiest vernacular, defies racial and political allegiances, has developed a singular aesthetic style, and absorbs influence from poets ranging from Robert Lowell to Homer.
Beginning with Walcott's apprenticeship years and continuing through his receipt of the 1992 Nobel Prize, Hamner traces the writer's development with intensive critical explorations of his poems and plays - their creation, content, style, themes, and critical reception. Highlights include discussion of Walcott's 1958 Rockefeller fellowship in New York; his founding of the Trinidad Theatre Workshop, which premiered his plays for over a decade; and analyses of Dream on Monkey Mountain (Obie 1971); the autobiographical poem Another Life (1973); O Babylon (1976), on Jamaica's Rastafarian culture; the verse collections Sea Grapes (1976) and The Star-Apple Kingdom (1979); The Fortunate Traveller (1981); Collected poems, 1948-1984 (1986); and many other works. As his readings culminate, Hamner illuminates the emergence of Walcott's mature style - his abandonment of his pervasive Crusoe heroes for the Odysseus hero that figures so prominently in Omeros - and his poetic use of the dynamic between the U.S. and the Caribbean. Throughout, Hamner integrates quotes from today's most important critics and evaluates their assessments of Walcott's work.

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About the author (1993)

Robert D. Hamner is professor of English and humanities at Hardin-Simmons University.

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