Neither Prospero nor Caliban: Derek Walcott’s Revaluations of Shakespearean Fluency

  • Peter Erickson


In a recent prose declaration, Derek Walcott articulates his problematic relation as a West indian writer to “an inescapable English tradition,” while simultaneously providing a formulation that turns the dilemma to positive advantage as “an enrichening process.” The issue concerns “whether a West Indian should write ‘their’ or ‘our’ when he is writing about English fiction or poetry. Rather than politicize the crisis into one of generic or individual identity, one should accept the irony or ambiguity or even the schizoid bewilderment of the drama as an enrichening process.”1 However, this assured, nuanced statement is the product of a settled, retrospective summary. Because this account is in effect an endpoint that emerges after a long process of struggle, it makes the acceptance and management of “schizoid bewilderment” sound too easily obtainable. My goal is to recover stages in the struggle by considering three points separated by roughly twenty-year intervals in Walcott’s career.


British Empire Racial Conflict Fairy Ring Emotional Force Unwavering Commitment 


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  1. 1.
    Derek Walcott, “A Frowsty Fragrance,” New York Review of Books 47, no. 10 (June 15, 2000): 57–61.Google Scholar
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© Peter Erickson 2007

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  • Peter Erickson

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