The scope of the articles in
Shades of Empire in Colonial and Post-Colonial Literatures, which are arranged in a broad sweep from East to West, with four short papers nestled in the middle on the theme of colonialism and motherhood, is extensive and varied. But in one way or another they all reflect the growing importance of literatures and cultures that might once have been regarded as marginal. During the colonial period the literature of the centre took possession of the margin, as well as of the imagination of the margin. But only recently has the question been raised as to why traditional English literary history has paid so little attention to colonial literature. Now post-colonial literatures are writing themselves back into the centre, and what used to be the margins of the English language world have now set themselves up as rival centres. An interesting question to arise from this is whether in the process the former colonial or colonizing literature has now itself turned into a post-colonial literature? What this book affirms is the importance and interest of a wide variety of literatures sharing a language but reflecting a rich and provocative diversity of histories, experiences and attitudes to the shared world which still also divides us.