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Memory and Myth: Postcolonial Religion in Contemporary Guyanese Fiction and Poetry. (Cross Cultures: Readings in the Post / Colonial Literatures in English)
Author: Fiona Darroch
Genre(s): Literary Criticism
Publication Year: 2009
This book investigates the problematical historical location of the term 'religion' and examines how this location has affected the analytical reading of postcolonial fiction and poetry. The adoption of the term 'religion' outside of a Western Enlightenment and Christian context should therefore be treated with caution. Within postcolonial literary criticism, there has been either a silencing of the category as a result of this caution or an uncritical and essentializing adoption of the term 'religion'. It is argued in the present study that a vital aspect of how writers articulate their histories of colonial contact, migration, slavery, and the re-forging of identities in the wake of these histories is illuminated by the classificatory term 'religion'. Aspects of postcolonial theory and Religious Studies theory are combined to provide fresh insights into the literature, thereby expanding the field of postcolonial literary criticism. The way in which writers 'remember' history through writing is central to the way in which 'religion' is theorized and articulated; the act of remembrance can be persuasively interpreted in terms of 'religion'. The title 'Memory and Myth' therefore refers to both the syncretic mythology of Guyana, and the key themes in a new critical understanding of 'religion'. Particular attention is devoted to Wilson Harris's novel Jonestown, alongside theoretical and historical material on the actual Jonestown tragedy; to the mesmerizing effect of the Anancy tales on contemporary writers, particularly the poet John Agard; and to the work of the Indo-Guyanese writer David Dabydeen and his elusive character Manu.