On the Crest of Two Worlds: the Renaissance Precolonial
I have so far shown examples of the medieval English precolonial positioning of Africa and blacks that would come to inform the colonial era of English history. In order to complete our journey along the black Atlantic, and to show how its flow of creativity works across times as well as across all cultures on its route, I turn now to a more direct examination of the effects of these constructions on contemporary Caribbean literature. When Renaissance explorers first came to the Americas, they were under the impression for some time that they had only reached farther parts of India and Africa than had previously been explored. Scholars often argue that they thought they had reached only India, but these arguments are usually based on a historical misreading of late medieval and early modern geographical knowledge. Geographers at this time, as I note in my first chapter, thought of India and Africa as joined. They thought of, and described those areas as, the “Three Indias”; we have seen an example of this in the Three Kings, where the narrator describes the kings as being lords of the “iij. Indes” (41). The first India referred to India Major, the area stretching east from Malabar. The second India was India Minor, from Malabar to Sind. The third India was the east coast of Africa, beyond the lands of the Saracens and, in the geographic thought of the time, very close to China.
KeywordsColonial History English History Formative Moment Colonialist Discourse Middle Passage
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