Faith Smith's analysis, in Creole Recitations, of the nineteenth-century scholar John Jacob Thomas's often contradictory allegiances offers us a way of reading the counterintuitively parallel career of the poet Eric Roach a century later. Roach is the subject of Laurence Breiner's monograph Black Yeats:Eric Roach and the Politics of Caribbean Poetry (2008). The positions Smith and Breiner ascribe to Thomas and Roach, respectively, articulate an enduring Caribbean contradiction between an aspiration to erudition on the one hand and the urgency of self-representation on the other. This essay argues that by obscuring the full range of Thomas' positions, which Smith's study so fully recuperates, and denigrating those same positions in Roach's work, which Breiner's study resuscitates, nationalist elites obfuscate their own connections to the full range of colonial and nationalist values by which they, too, have been influenced.
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Rhonda Cobham; “Only His Hat Is Left”: John Jacob Thomas, Eric Roach, and the Nationalist's Dilemma. Small Axe 1 July 2011; 15 (2 (35)): 174–185. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/07990537-1334158
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