Visions of interconnection : ecocritical perspectives on the writings of Wilson Harris and Derek Walcott
This thesis provides a 'green' reading of selected writings from Wilson Harris and Derek Walcott, demonstrating each writer's profound and sustained engagement with the philosophy, politics and poetics of environmentalism. The environmental ethic evident in the work of Harris and of Walcott has been fashioned in relation not only to personal experiences of lived reality in the Caribbean, but also as a result of prevalent ecological thinking world-wide. In addition, an integral part of the construction of such literary ecology is the formation of dialogues with an earlier eco-literary heritage, especially the inspiration taken from an understanding of 'green' Romanticism in the form of the poetry of William Blake and of John Clare. Part one of the study examines examples from across the corpus of Wilson Harris's work, tracing the representation of ecologically-conscious interconnected vision from his earliest published writings up until his final novels. Harris textually re-maps journeys of incursion, ethnocentric and anthropocentric, into the forests of Guyana to arrive at a position of redemptive possibility for the history of the land. Part two of the study looks at the formation of Derek Walcott's environmental ethic through his construction of an ecopoetic body of work, which comprises various modes, tones and genres of writing. Walcott, too, arrives at a representation of 'interconnected vision' which demands the re-figuring of relations between humanity and the extra-human world. This thesis hopes to offer some insights into the reassessment of the Romantic inheritance to literary ecology in general, and, furthermore, to indicate how the processes of 'green' reading might be compatible with postcolonial analysis. It is the contention that the cross-cultural nature of the eco-narratives and ecopoetics of Harris and of Walcott locate them very much at the forefront of discussions of cultural ecology both in the Caribbean and beyond.