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Saturday, 4 October 2008

"Why are you painting like Turner?"

Politics are liable to fuse into aesthetics in Walcott's conversation. His literary theory could be boiled down to a single principle: that the artist must make maximum use of the resources of tradition. "If you asked a young Caribbean painter, 'Why are you painting like Turner? He was an Englishman,' he would tell you fuck off. As writers we're not as belligerent about this as we should be. What is taught in schools generally in the West Indies is that if something is your thing, it's better than anybody else's because it's yours. It's extremely provincial, and also damaging. You prevent people from learning things. The biggest absurdity would be: 'Don't read Shakespeare because he was white.'"

--From James Campbell's profile of Derek Walcott in today's UK Guardian. Walcott is directing a musical version (composed by Dominique Le Gendre) of Seamus Heaney's Burial at Thebes, opening on 11 October at Shakespeare's Globe in London.


FSJL said...

Yet Walcott isn't writing like Shakespeare (and hasn't been since his youth), he's writing like Walcott.

FSJL said...
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