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 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. 1.
    Derek Walcott, “A Frowsty Fragrance,” New York Review of Books 47, no. 10 (June 15, 2000): 57–61.Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    Derek Walcott, Midsummer (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1984).Google Scholar
  3. 4.
    Derek Walcott, Tiepolo’s Hound (New York: Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2000).Google Scholar
  4. 6.
    Paul Breslin, Nobody’s Nation: Reading Derek Walcott (Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2001), 62.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 7.
    Rita Dove, “‘Either I’m Nobody, or I’m a Nation,’” Parnassus: Poetry in Review 14, no. 1 (1987): 49–76Google Scholar
  6. 8.
    Leon Forrest, Divine Days (New York: Norton, 1993), 1007.Google Scholar
  7. 9.
    Countee Cullen, “Heritage,” Color (New York: Harper, 1925), 36–41.Google Scholar
  8. 19.
    On The Fighting Temeraire, see Judy Egerton, Turner, The Fighting Temeraire (London: National Gallery, 1995).Google Scholar
  9. 23.
    Sharon L. Ciccarelli, “Reflections before and after Carnival: An Interview with Derek Walcott,” in Chant of Saints: A Gathering of Afro-American Literature, Art, and Scholarship, ed. Michael S. Harper and Robert B. Stepto (Urbana: U of Illinois P, 1979), 296–309Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Peter Erickson 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  • Peter Erickson

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations