"Return" in Post-colonial Writing by Vera Mihailovich-Dickman Summary
For writers and academics prominent in the field of the New Literatures in English today, the notion of return explodes into rich semantic difference to reveal the diversity of preoccupations underlying the use of the common tongue. From the Caribbean to Australia, Guyana to South Africa, India to Great Britain, literary, political and personal history collaborate in the poetic metamorphosis of an otherwise everyday experience. Now a state of being, now a reading rich with cross-cultural age, return draws from the collective memory, invokes revenants, digs up forgotten history, quests for roots. Just as it creates a dialogue with the past, textual or real, it negotiates turning points and perpetuates reversals. It reclaims territory, tradition and language in its yearning for home. Fraught with the tensions arising from awareness of the impossibility of return, from the exhilarations of imaginary, fictional return - even from the glimmering hope of a possible return - its contemplation can also lead to appreciation of the infinite re-turn, re-newal and re-creation that is the beauty of human experience. Discussion ranges from revenant supernaturalism in West Indian literature and the exploration of return in Australian, African and Indo-Anglian fiction to Caribbean poetry, South African praise poets, and West African drama. Writers treated include Ama Ata Aidoo, Edward Kamau Brathwaite, Jean D'Costa, Bessie Head, Matsemela Manaka, Salman Rushdie, Derek Walcott, and Patrick White. The personal, biographical dimension of physical return is encompassed via the examination of the life and works of such writers as Es'kia Mphahlele and Wole Soyinka, and through autobiographical reflections. The essays, stories and poetry in this collection challenge patterns of conditioned reading and call for a multilayered polylogue with reality.