Published in June 1951 under the title East Indian, West Indian, the hybrid autobiography of the Jamaican poet Claude McKay and the Calcutta-born Eurasian scholar Cedric Dover aimed to provide, in Dover’s words, “a practical expression of coloured unity.” Dover attempted to color world literature by crafting a transnational literary canon grounded in the idea of colored solidarity and explicitly opposed to racism and imperialism. His commitment to colored cosmopolitanism led him, however, to a stale ventriloquism that was itself a form of colonization. Claiming dominion over McKay’s memories of his childhood and of his native Jamaica, Dover failed to uphold not only the most rudimentary principles of scholarship but his own best intentions. East Indian, West Indian offers a distinctive vantage on the history of “world literature” and on the challenge of reconciling two of the most significant concepts in contemporary scholarship: the subaltern and the transnational.

You do not currently have access to this content.