Gordon Collier


Although one is always ultimately engrossed in the primary world of Walcott's poems and plays, there is also, as a kind of referential reflex, the contrary motion of glimpsing and seeking thematic and even stylistic interconnections, parallels and contrasts within the secondary world of his essays, articles, published talks, and interviews. Walcott's Stockholm acceptance speech, 'The Antilles: Fragments of Epic Memory'/ is at the very least a further valuable contribution to the debate on the nature of West Indian literary culture. But the fact of the Nobel Prize, however cynical we might normally be about the possible motivation of the selection committee from year to year, and the fact that Walcott was perfectly prepared to accept the honour and write the mandatory lecture, may lead us to look at its text with a more broadly enquiring eye. He was, after all, not just addressing his immediate audience in Stockholm; he was speaking to and for the world of all those for whom literary art means something, and specifically for the smaller world of the archipelago. In view of the citation of the Swedish Academy of Letters, that through Walcott 'West Indian culture has found its great poet', for whom 'three loyalties are central ... the Caribbean where he lives, the English language, and his African origin', and that the award was made 'for a poetic oeuvre of great luminosity, sustained by a historical vision, the outcome of a multicultural commitment', we might expect him in his lecture to be addressing the topic of that Caribbean world and his place within it.



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