The Inhospitable Muse: Locating Creole Identity in James Grainger's The Sugar-Cane

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The Inhospitable Muse: Locating Creole Identity in James Grainger's The Sugar-Cane Powered By Docstoc
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Description: Randhawa presents a literary criticism of The Sugar-Cane (1764), a poem by James Grainger. Grainger's self-proclaimed "West Indian georgic," The Sugar-Cane, is perhaps best remembered for the circumstances of its introduction to the high literary echelons of London, rather than for any memorable versification of Caribbean exoticism within the poem itself. Among other things, the discussion seeks to read the poem through a paradigm of colonial hospitality, which the monumental awkwardness of the poem's initial reception to the metropole so convincingly reveals. A careful analysis of the work reveals that the poem's ideological motivations internalize the very same anxiety of "belonging" and overseas acceptance which the colonial West Indian Creole craved, as a cultural outsider. The poem contains numerous manifestations of hospitable conventions which show Grainger's attempt to establish hospitality as a deliberate practice of Creole cultural legitimation as well as a strategy of colonial management. Analyzing Grainger's poem with specific reference to how he manages to transform an alien, hostile landscape into a familiar, hospitable one reveals much about the cultural desire which informs the legitimization of the Creole, and the forces which refused to validate its existence as anything but an aberrant and degraded version of the center. A reading of the poem through the lens of hospitable relations therefore brings one a step closer to solving the internal paradox of "glad barbarity" which forms the heart of the poem's ideological cathexis.
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