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Representations of slavery
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Slavery is a recurring subject in works by the contemporary British writers Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D'Aguiar, yet their return to this past arises from an urgent need to understand the racial anxieties of twentieth- and twenty-first-century Britain. This book examines the ways in which their literary explorations of slavery may shed light on current issues in Britain today, or what might be thought of as the continuing legacies of the UK's largely forgotten slave past. It looks at a range of novels, poetry and non-fictional works by Phillips, Dabydeen and D'Aguiar in order to consider their creative responses to slavery. The study focuses exclusively on contemporary British literary representations of slavery, and thoughtfully engages with such notions as the history, memory and trauma of slavery and the ethics of writing about this past. It offers a guide to the ways in which the transatlantic slave trade is represented in recent postcolonial literature.

Abigail Ward

This chapter discusses slavery in the context of the works of Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D'Aguiar. It considers these writers' differing representation of Britain's involvement in the transatlantic slave trade, and studies the ways where their return to this past may illuminate current issues in Britain today. This chapter also looks at the history of racism in Britain, introduces the term ‘black British literature’, and discusses each of the authors in detail.

in Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D’Aguiar
Abigail Ward

This chapter takes a look at Phillips, who was concerned with twentieth-century Britain and the ways belonging has been made difficult for non-white citizens. It discusses several of Phillips' works, and it traces the origins of the UK's unwelcoming attitude towards blacks entering the country, as well as the related anxieties surrounding national identity.

in Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D’Aguiar
Abigail Ward

This chapter studies Dabydeen's move away from the historical archive in responding to the past in terms of slavery. It presents a deliberate vandalisation of—and disrespect towards—received history. It notes that Dabydeen's primary concern is with the ethics of representing slavery and that his works reveal his anxieties about audience and received readers for his texts. This chapter also examines A Harlot's Progress and The Counting House, where Dabydeen studies the role of Indian indentured labourers. A study of his narrative poem ‘Turner’ is included.

in Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D’Aguiar
Abigail Ward

This chapter is focused on D'Aguiar, who struggles with the problems of representing the past of slave trading. It observes that he shares Dabydeen and Phillips' concerns with the historical record about the slave trade, and notes that he has written about the issues surrounding examining accounts of received history. This chapter considers the possibility that D'Aguiar is deeply troubled by the act of writing about the memory of slavery. It also tries to answer the question of how people are supposed to remember slavery a hundred and fifty years after its end and with the lack of witnesses.

in Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D’Aguiar
Abigail Ward

This chapter summarises some of the most significant trends in the critical approaches to the work of Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D'Aguiar. It then emphasises important points made throughout the study. It notes that slavery has been overlooked in received historical narratives of Britain, and that the texts of these three writers that were studied in this book have tried to redress the silence surrounding slavery and show why it is important that this past is not forgotten.

in Caryl Phillips, David Dabydeen and Fred D’Aguiar