“Nothing in that Other Kingdom”: Fashioning a Return to Africa in Omeros

  • Srila Nayak Fellow, College of the Arts Emerson College, Boston
Keywords: Intertextuality, Postcolonial adaptation, Epic canon, Paternity

Abstract

What are we to make of Achille’s imaginary return to Africa in Derek Walcott’s Omeros? Is it a rejection of his earlier theme of postcolonial nostalgia for lost origins? Does it lead to a different conception of postcolonial identity, away from notions of new world hybridity and heterogeneity that Walcott had espoused earlier? Is it a complex figuring of racial identity for the Afro-Caribbean subject? Or, is it in its depiction of Achille’s eventual choice of residence in Saint Lucia ultimately a critique of the discourse of return to origins? My essay tries to answer these questions through a reading of the specific intertextual moments in the poem’s return to Africa passage. The presence of allusions and textual fragments from Virgil’s Aeneid, Homer’s Odyssey and James Joyce’s Ulysses in this particular passage of Omeros (Book 3) hasn’t received much critical attention so far. Through the use of these modular texts, I argue, Omeros not only transforms the genre of a curative return to origins and fashions a distinctive literary landscape, but also imagines a postcolonial subjectivity that negotiates the polarity between origins and a fragmented new world identity.

Author Biography

Srila Nayak, Fellow, College of the Arts Emerson College, Boston

Srila Nayak is a fellow in the Office of the Arts at Emerson College, Boston. She has taught at Carnegie Mellon University and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She has a Ph.D. in English literary and cultural studies from Carnegie Mellon University and a MS in journalism from Columbia University.

Published
2013-12-12
Section
Caribbean Literature Cluster