Have we passed the last post-? Theorizing post/colonial literature

In: New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids
A. James Arnold
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[First paragraph]Aime Cesaire. GREGSON DAVIS. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1997. xvi + 208 pp. (Cloth US$ 59.95)Caribbean Poetics: Toward an Aesthetic of West Indian Literature. SILVIO TORRES-SAILLANT. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1997. xiv + 353 pp. (Cloth £45.00)Islands and Exiles: The Creole Identities of Post/Colonial Literature. CHRIS BONGIE. Stanford CA: Stanford University Press, 1998. xi + 543 pp. (Cloth US$ 65.00, Paper US$ 24.95)The three books under review here all make important claims for a Caribbean poetics, but they do so from perspectives that range from practical criticism (Davis), through comparative poetics (Torres-Saillant), to what is sometimes called high theory (Bongie). With the exception of Davis's book, which is a detailed treatment of a single seminal figure, they range widely and seek grounds for broad comparative assessments. The need to establish such grounds for comparison is witnessed by the volume History of Literature in the Caribbean, which Bongie and Torres-Saillant both reference. To find one's way in this potentially dizzying display of critical and theoretical acumen, it will be most helpful to proceed from the general to the particular, from high theory to practical criticism.

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