The History and Shaping of Caribbean Literature


  • Julia Udofia Department of English, University of Uyo, Uyo, Nigeria



Caribbean literature, history, slavery, criticism


The abrupt “beginning” of the history of the Caribbean, coupled with the brutal mode of occupation and violence among the colonizing forces has led many scholars to conclude that the area is “historyless” and unlikely to proceed further than its crude and violent beginnings. This paper examines this peculiar history and its attendant effect on the shaping and criticism of Caribbean literature. Since Caribbean literature is also, to some extent, a response to history, the paper also highlights the major individual Caribbean writers’ responses to the history of this place. Being mainly library-based, the research relies on such critical materials as articles, reviews, books and interviews published on the literature of this place. Works in the area of history also help to shed light on the historical realities of this place. In the end, it is found out that as a result of the debilitating history of this area, much of the criticism of the literature of this place is often “jaundiced”. However, it is believed that despite this stereotyped criticism and despite the assertion that history exerts a definitive influence on the creative imagination, the Caribbean man can live down the ravages of history and transcend his alien milieu.