Wednesday, January 08, 2003

The January Trinidad & Tobago Review is out this week (sadly, not online), with a review of Letters from London (C.L.R. James; ed. Nicholas Laughlin) by Paul Buhle. Brief significant excerpts:

More than a decade has passed by since C.L.R. James's death in 1989, and the secondary literature has continued to grow apace. But we have heard curiously little of James's own voice in most of the assorted interpretations, most especially his reflections on the native Caribbean that he left to enter the larger arena, but whose historical experience remained central to his world view throughout his life.

This slim yet potent volume, the ruminative wanderings of a native son, should mark the beginning of a renewed appreciation for James's navigation of multi-continental life, including his fiction, his essays on federation, and still less remembered writings ... awaiting publication....

We are immediately struck by [the essays'] maturity and balance, a fine mixture of the journalistic and the personal, penned for an audience "back home" that, for the most part, knew about England only through what they read....

He has already become a socialist (and a bit of an anarchist) in spirit; also a Caribbean citizen who will measure the potential of the English by their adoption of himself ... as defying the condescensions of empire. We can already imagine him, in 1932, as the future author of The Black Jacobins, anti-Stalinist heretic of Hyde Park oratory, émigré from the supposed mother country to America, and returnee to the Caribbean on the lip of independence.

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