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Abstract

Taking on board debates, past and present, about the contested category of Caribbeanness, this chapter interrogates various conversations about Jean Rhys and cultural appropriation. It looks at how authors from one ‘socio-cultural orientation’ (including race and gender) construct the voices of characters of another orientation, and whether a black male writer who writes a white woman character, putting his words into her mouth, so to speak, constitutes appropriation in the same way that Kei Miller claims in his 2018 essay that certain white Caribbean women writers appropriate the black male voice. I use as a test case Caryl Phillips, who has throughout his writing career often movingly evoked white women characters. After mentioning some of these, I look at his recent A View of the Empire at Sunset and its potentially problematic relation to the life (and voice) of Jean Rhys.

In: Caryl Phillips’s Genealogies
In: Caryl Phillips’s Genealogies