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date: 04 July 2022

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter considers the reception of Dante in Caribbean literature. It explores the works of two seminal Afro-Caribbean poets, the Barbadian Edward Kamau Brathwaite and the Jamaican Lorna Goodison, examining their relationship to Dante’s Commedia and De vulgari eloquentia. The chapter discusses the import of these two texts and of the figure of Dante in the articulation of Brathwaite’s seminal concept of ‘nation language’ and in Goodison’s theorizations of rhetoric, which highlight the epistemic dimensions of language, particularly in the colonial and postcolonial contexts. The chapter shows how the figure and work of Dante have been instrumental for these two writers in their exploration of the entangled concerns of language, race, and power in the colonial continuum. In so doing, the chapter highlights similarities, while underscoring differences, between Caribbean poets’ engagement with the figure and work of Dante and the reception of the Italian poet among African-American writers.

Keywords: postcolonial, Caribbean, language, race, power, African-American, Lorna Goodison, Kamau Brathwaite

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