'Homecomings without Home': Representations of (Post)colonial nostos (Homecoming) in the Lyric of Aimé Césaire and Derek Walcott
© Oxford University Press, 2013. This chapter discusses the adaptation of the motif of katabasis in Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal (1939/47) and in a short poem by Derek Walcott, 'Homecoming: Anse La Raye' (1969). It investigates what it may mean to return home in a postcolonial context and shows how, in the work of these two Caribbean poets, that return is configured simultaneously as a homecoming and an infernal journey. In both poems, the motif of katabasis also hints at the tension between living traditions and the cultural deadweight of past civilizations, raising the question of whether Homer lives, or is a ghostly presence. The chapter shows how Césaire and Walcott exploit the idea of the West's cultural possession of Homer, while at the same time exploring what an 'epic of the dispossessed' might look like.
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