Mark A. McWatt


The writings of David Dabydeen, whether poetry, prose fiction or autobiographical sketches, provide an interesting example of the creative use of the technique of masking. The writer/narrator/poetic persona uses multiple masks in order both to suggest the complexity of the identity of the West Indian East Indian, and also, one suspects, to protect certain aspects of self from the kind of 'knowing' described by Lamming as his reason for the retreat into 'the castle of my skin'. It is interesting that the technique of masking which is used defensively- to discourage certain facile readings of the text of the 'self'- appears to be more prevalent in those West Indian Writers (Lamming, Naipaul, Dabydeen) who seem most aware of the non-West Indian contexts in which they live and write. Other writers, such as Walcott, Brathwaite and Lovelace, use the technique of masking differently, and certainly less self-consciously.



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