A biographical-critical study of Austin Clarke

Algoo-Baksh, Stella (1991) A biographical-critical study of Austin Clarke. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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Abstract

This dissertation is a critical study, in a biographical context, of the work of Austin Clarke; it investigates not only Clarke's growth as a writer but also the extent to which his work reflects, and is an attempt to understand, his life experiences. An overview of the Barbadian setting forms the backdrop for an examination of his early years, a period in which the stigma of his race and social origins impels him to seek success though essentially in terms imposed by the dominant English cultural heritage. The course of his life and literary career in Canada is then traced; it is clear that the marginality he has known in Barbados recurs in his new home and that it evokes within him an intense awareness of himself as a black man, driving him to draw extensively upon his experiences in order to write. -- The dissertation examines Clarke's early literary efforts in Canada, his declining fascination with poetry in favour of fiction and his shift from an affiliation with English romanticism to a social realism that places him in the mainstream of West Indian literature. It follows his career as he publishes his first two novels, both set in Barbados and absorbed in the alienation and inner mutilation the society has induced in the colonised, and as he progresses into a series of novels and short story anthologies dwelling on the social and psychological complexities of the black immigrant experience in Canada. It is shown, however, that he renews his contact with the West Indies and resumes his scrutiny of Barbadian society with a typically critical eye. -- The dissertation suggests, nevertheless, that the link between Clarke's life and writing is not simply a matter of sources of raw material or influences on the direction of his career; through his analyses of the black experience Clarke tries to come to terms with his past, to comprehend his own psyche and to achieve a sense of personal identity. In the process, this study concludes, he has made a notable contribution to the literatures of both Canada and the Caribbean.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
URI: http://research.library.mun.ca/id/eprint/7996
Item ID: 7996
Additional Information: Bibliography: leaves 433-468.
Department(s): Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of > English Language and Literature
Date: 1991
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Clarke, Austin, 1934---Biography; Clarke, Austin, 1934---Criticism and interpretation

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