Introduction: Constructing the Countryside
This book examines how the British countryside is portrayed in the works of Caribbean writers Jean Rhys, V.S. Naipaul, Derek Walcott, and Grace Nichols, as well as British-Caribbean “second generation” writers Andrea Levy, Caryl Phillips, and Charlotte Williams. I explore whether these authors have found a different rural landscape to the one their predecessors encountered; how Britain’s countryside is represented before the writers see it first-hand; and how differently the authors then construct the countryside afterwards. I find that previously held (colonial and postcolonial) views of Britain’s countryside influence these authors’ subsequent perspectives, sometimes reifying a traditional and exclusive view of Britain’s countryside, but also reframing our understanding of that countryside to admit a greater multivocality. This chapter begins an exploration of the complex relationship between a former great economic, social, and political power and the new world, with special regard to the social and the countryside in Britain today.