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Book Title: In the Castle of My Skin|
Loaded: 1220 times
Reader ratings: 4.5
The author of the book: George Lamming
Edition: Mcgraw Hill Book Company
Date of issue: 1953
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 639 KB
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In the Castle of My Skin was written when its author, George Lamming, was just 23 years old. It is a semi-autobiographical story of the artist-as-a-young-man/child sort but it is also much more than that. It is the story of a small island country (Barbados) becoming aware of itself, its colonized identify and the desire to cling to tradition while feeling pulled into change.
Lamming alternates points of view-the young child, the school boys, the teachers, an elderly couple lamenting yet wishing for change in an almost dizzying way. G., the novel's protagonist, is often off-stage for long periods of time. Only rarely is the narrative "I" used and the story is rarely told in a straight-forward way. The imagery of water, the floods that mark for the islanders the beginning of the entry of the 20th century into their lives, the emmigration of the island's most promising young men and the burgeoning awareness of politics, slavery, and the greater world.
Betrayal is a major theme: the islanders are betrayed by the land, the "mother" country (England) and one of their most followed leaders, Mr. Slime (I swear I am not fabricating his name!). Slime begins his life in this book as a teacher, as a photograph given to the head of the school in which the headmaster's wife is seen betraying him with one of the teachers (Slime). He becomes a union leader, a minister and more.
Although the characters suffer from a kind of flatness due to their use as "representatives" or "symbols" and the writing is so dense that I found reading the book difficult and slow, ultimately I valued the intensity of the books moral core, powerful images, and often beautiful prose. I was unable to connect with any of the characters and felt unable to connect emotionally with the book (which is why I gave the book 4, not 5 stars) but intensely valued the intellectual integrity and power of the work.
If you are interested in colonialism and the struggle to break free and become independent, this book (an early example of postcolonial literature) will be well worth the effort involved in reading it.
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Read information about the authorGeorge Lamming was born in the Caribbean island of Barbados on June 8, 1927. He attended The Combermere School which has produced other Barbadian literary icons including Frank Collymore and Austin Clarke. He left that island for Trinidad in 1946, teaching school until 1950. He then emigrated to England where, for a short time, he worked in a factory. In 1951 he became a broadcaster for the BBC Colonial Service. He entered academia in 1967 as a writer-in-residence and lecturer in the Creative Arts Centre and Department of Education at the University of the West Indies.
Since then, he has has served as a Visiting Professor and Writer-in-Residence at the City University of New York. He has worked as a faculty member and lecturer at the University of Texas at Austin and the University of Pennsylvania. He has also served as a Distinguished Visiting Professor at Duke University and a Visiting Professor of Africana Studies and Literary Arts at Brown University. In addition to his American teaching and lecturing experience, Lamming has also taught or lectured at universities in Tanzania, Denmark, and Australia.
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