London's Burning: Structuralist Readings of the Urban Inferno in the 1950's British Literature of Multi-culturalism
This article examines a literary triangle treating a modern re-imagining of the Dantean Inferno in Caribbean migrant experience. Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners advanced a stylistic and intellectual revolution in post-World War II British literature, inspiring Colin MacInnes’ Absolute Beginners in the founding literary texts of contemporary British multi-cultural society. It followed the template of Jean Rhys Voyage in the Dark. We must read these complex texts to understand the conflicted multi-cultural society that Britain has become today: they deal with identity and solidarity, atomisation and commodification, Empire and capitalism, while throwing light on the most recent advances in historical and theoretical scholarship by pioneers such as Olivette Otele and Reni Eddo-Lodge. Moreover, these texts throw new light on unanswered Structuralist and Post-Structuralist debates from Emile Durkheim to Martin Heidegger. This article examines the intersectionality of class, gender and race within both the national British framework of post-war capitalism and the wider colonial heritage of slavery and forced labour, highlighting voices who articulated an ideal of multi-cultural humanism that remains crucial today.
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Copyright (c) 2020 Tad Graham Fernée
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