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"From a Distant Witness" in Rome and London: Black Atlantic Temporalities in William Demby's Beetlecreek and George Lamming's In the Castle of My Skin

Sherazi, Melanie (2019) "From a Distant Witness" in Rome and London: Black Atlantic Temporalities in William Demby's Beetlecreek and George Lamming's In the Castle of My Skin. Ariel: A Review of International English Literature, 50 (1). pp. 3-30. ISSN 0004-1327. http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20190213-134602435

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Abstract

Focusing on the formal methods of two modernist works of Cold War-era black Atlantic fiction, William Demby’s Beetlecreek (1950) and George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin (1953), the article examines the authors’ respective positions of exile in Rome and London and choice to pen their debut, semi-autobiographical coming-of-age novels, set in the 1930s, with existential undertones—Demby’s in a small segregated town in the Southern United States and Lamming’s in a small colonial village in the Caribbean. Demby and Lamming use aesthetic modes of defamiliarization as a liberatory strategy, adopting modernist formal and temporal strategies to estrange structures of oppression. The essay argues for reading the authors’ novels beyond national and canonical boundaries as part of a larger body of black Atlantic literature that deconstructs racialized regimes in the Global South. I conclude with a brief reading of each writer’s intersections with Langston Hughes and Richard Wright, positing mobile networks of black diasporic affiliation forged in a period of global flux and transformation. This article compares two writers normally read only in distinct African American, Afro-Caribbean, and/or Black British contexts and calls attention to their shared priorities of black modernist innovation and politico-aesthetics.


Item Type:Article
Related URLs:
URLURL TypeDescription
https://doi.org/10.1353/ari.2019.0001 DOIArticle
Additional Information:© 2019 Johns Hopkins University Press and the University of Calgary.
Subject Keywords:William Demby; George Lamming; black Atlantic; expatriate literature; transnationalism; temporal turn; black internationalism
Record Number:CaltechAUTHORS:20190213-134602435
Persistent URL:http://resolver.caltech.edu/CaltechAUTHORS:20190213-134602435
Official Citation:Sherazi, Melanie Masterton. "“From a Distant Witness” in Rome and London: Black Atlantic Temporalities in William Demby’s Beetlecreek and George Lamming’s In the Castle of My Skin." ariel: A Review of International English Literature, vol. 50 no. 1, 2019, pp. 3-30. Project MUSE, doi:10.1353/ari.2019.0001
Usage Policy:No commercial reproduction, distribution, display or performance rights in this work are provided.
ID Code:92889
Collection:CaltechAUTHORS
Deposited By: Tony Diaz
Deposited On:13 Feb 2019 22:04
Last Modified:13 Feb 2019 22:04

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