An Intellectual History of the Caribbean by S. Torres-Saillant

By S. Torres-Saillant

This is first highbrow historical past of the Caribbean written by way of a best Caribbean stories pupil. The publication examines either the paintings of natives of the quarter in addition to texts interpretive of the quarter produced by means of Western authors. Stressing the experimental and cultural particularity of the Caribbean, the examine considers significant questions within the field.

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The Caribbean served as the principal arena for the Spanish–American War of 1898 in so far as the conflict revolved around Cuba, with Puerto Rico coming in as a welcome war booty. The outcome ushered in a refashioned world order that would give the United States a leading role in the affairs of the planet. During the 1930s, American historian Charles M. Andrews integrated the Caribbean in his study of the mainland North American colonies that subsequently became the United States on the grounds that from the seventeenth century onward we cannot understand “the constitutional and commercial developments of the English colonies in America” apart from the history of Barbados, the Leeward Islands, and Jamaica since those settlements “formed part of a single Atlantic world” (Andrews 1934–1938 II: 271, cited in Brereton 1999: 315).

To the disillusionment of Eva’s husband Bee, the most optimistic of the community members, the police surround their quarters, search their facilities, and lock up their church, declaring their worship illegal. Sitting powerfully in the Legislative Council, Morton moves not one finger to alleviate their plight. When Bee appears before Morton with the grievance, instead of getting support he hears a sermon in which the young lawyer urges him to desist from his pagan faith. We hear the details of Morton’s patronizing counsel as Bee reports them to Eva: “Tell me he not against the principle of the freedom of worship but what worrying him is that I, we should still be in the dark ages in these modern times when we could settle down and be civilize” (13).

James speculates that Pierre Dominique Toussaint Louverture, the great leader of the Saint Domingue insurgents in the 1790s, found in Raynal’s prophecy an allusion to himself as the predestined individual to whom history had entrusted the formidable mission of liberating his community (James 1963:25, 82, 171, 250). But political leaders in the Caribbean have rarely lived up to the expectations of their people. The Wine of Astonishment, the penetrating novel by Trinidadian author Earl Lovelace, explores the bitter reality of Caribbean people’s frustrated hope and unrewarded faith at the hands of morally feeble leaders.

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