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Reading Jean Rhys in the Context of Caribbean Literature: Re-positioning her Texts in the Negritude Movement and the Caribbean Literary Renaissance in London

Saito, Midori. 2010. Reading Jean Rhys in the Context of Caribbean Literature: Re-positioning her Texts in the Negritude Movement and the Caribbean Literary Renaissance in London. Doctoral thesis, Goldsmiths, University of London [Thesis]

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Abstract or Description

This thesis locates Jean Rhys’ texts specifically within the context of Negritude and the Caribbean literary Renaissance in London. The thesis reads the texts within the context of Caribbean literature and challenges the trend in Rhys’ criticism that segregates her from black Caribbean writers. Positioning Rhys in relation to both her Caribbean male and female contemporaries, I argue for the contexualising of her fiction in the body of Caribbean literature. I also seek to unveil links between Rhys and black Caribbean women writers through a shared critique of gender and I offer a contrapuntal reading of Rhys’ texts as Caribbean literature.

Beginning with a consideration of Rhys’ texts in relation to both European modernists’ and surrealists’ texts, I emphasise her different perspective on the cultural ‘other’. I see this difference as crucial when examining her relationship with Caribbean modernism, notably with the Negritude movement. Rhys’ texts are contrasted to works of specific Negritude writers, notably Claude McKay and Aimé Césaire, who were both deeply influenced by modernist aesthetics. Rhys’ texts are compared to those of Negritude women writers such as Suzanne Lacascade and Mayotte Capécia, especially in relation to their shared challenge to patriarchy and resisting the notion of essentialist racial categories. A similar comparison is made in the context of the Caribbean Literary Renaissance specifically in relation to the BBC’s Caribbean Voices and the Caribbean Artists Movement (CAM) in London. Rhys’ ambivalence towards national identity as well as to Western feminism is compared to Una Marson’s radical feminism, analysed in view of Sylvia Wynter’s theoretical insights. Finally Wide Sargasso Sea is mapped against Rhys’ contemporary Caribbean male writers’ rewriting of The Tempest, demonstrating that Rhys’ rewriting of Jane Eyre is an articulation of Caribbean feminism.

Item Type:

Thesis (Doctoral)

Keywords:

caribbean literature, comparative literature, english

Departments, Centres and Research Units:

English and Comparative Literature

Date:

2010

Item ID:

4804

Date Deposited:

17 Feb 2012 17:51

Last Modified:

19 Jul 2018 04:35

URI:

http://research.gold.ac.uk/id/eprint/4804

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