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Samuel Dickson  Selvon
山謬•狄克生•塞爾馮
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Samuel Dickson Selvon

1923-

 
 
 
 Biography

 General Introduction to His Works

 
 
 Biography
 

Selvon, Samuel Dickson was born to East Indian parents in San Fernando, Trinidad, and was educated at Naparima College, Trinidad.  Graduating in 1938 with a Senior Cambridge Certificate, Selvon subsequently equipped himself for his writing career through professional experience and on-the-job training.  . . . between 1945 and 1950, .  . .he published a number of short stories, poems, and articles in Caribbean magazines.  Between 1950 and 1952 Selvon was a free-lance writer in England, where he became internationally recognized.  He moved to Canada in 1978.  . . . 


His work:
    Selvon began his international career with his first novel, A Brighter Sun, which is set in Trinidad and explores peasant experience during socio-economic change.   . .. 
    With the exception of The Lonely Londoner, [Selvon's] novels [before The Lonely Londoner] focus on the everyday experience of islanders in Trinidad.   The Lonely Londoner portrays in a humorous manner the experience of the expatriate West Indians in London.  . . . 
    A sequel to The Lonely Londoner-- 
Moses Ascending (1975) expresses what may be Selvon's most trenchant social criticism, which he communicate through a hybrid form of English that combines Trinidad creole English and Standard English. 
Moses Migrating (1983)  Moses returns to Trinidad as an ambassador of British cultural pride, providing the reader with many ironic contrasts between colonizer and colonized. 

His major concerns:
...[he employs] Trinidad Creole to 'educate' the English reader, whom he considers to be ignorant of the Caribbean. 

Unlike Naipaul, who portrays his fellow islanders as disadvantaged victims who are rootless, unimportant, and uncreative, Selvon writes with a genuine pride in his people and in their country, despite the social disadvantages and faded dreams that define their world. 

Selvon's career places him in the two worlds of colonial and post-colonial experience.  His work extends from the period of waning colonial control by Britain, through the dislocating experience of exile ( The Lonely Londoner ) and the disappointing search for synthesis and completeness in Moses Ascending, to the hopeful resumption of the search in  Moses Migrating, which combines the ironies and contrasts of failed experience and fantasy.  (Benson, 1434-35) 

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 General Introduction to His Works
  • Sam Selvon on his language and comedy form

    • Language -- [never spell the word phonetically; e.g. "want" as "wan"]

        "There are certain times when I felt like writing a certain section, or even a paragraph, in standard English.  So I did that, just because I thought of it that way.  This is one of the things about The Lonely Londoners. . . if you look at the book carefully, you would see that there are passages of street and standard English, and then suddenly, well, I hope, not suddenly, it just seems as if you are reading that dialect without being consciously aware that the writer has started to use to dialect form." (Nazareth  79)

    • Comedy --  "The comedy element has always been there among black people from the Caribbean.  It is their means of defence against the sufferings and tribulations that they have to undergo.  . . . It seems to me that . . . this gift for laughter, of being able to laugh at everything and to laugh at themselves, is so much a characteristic of the Caribbean people. .  ." (Nazareth   80-81)

  • Gender Relations
    Selvon's immigrants rigidly maintain (as their counterparts in the West Indies do) a closely-knit male community.  Women and family are on the periphery of this communityl marriage is undesirable, and those who do marry -- Lewis and Joseph in The Lonely Londoners. .  .-- are either ridiculed or come to grief; women, white and black, are merely "things" or "children" or "pieces" to be used and discarded at the discretion of the men.  (Barratt 250)

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