George Lamming: Revolutionary Poetics: Sandra Pouchet Paquet
In his fiction and lectures, essays and interviews, from ‘The Negro Writer and His World’ (1958) through The Pleasures of Exile (1960) to the recent Sovereignty of the Imagination (2004), the Barbadian writer George Lamming explores the relation of art and politics in the project of decolonization and the regional quest for freedom. As Ngugi wa Thiong’o observes in ‘Freeing the Imagination: George Lamming’s Aesthetics of Decolonization’, the publication of Lamming’s first novel, In the Castle of My Skin (1953), ‘marks a great moment in the praxis of decolonization. It was a time pregnant with the tension of what had been a century of European imperial ascendancy in the globe, with French and British Empires at the helm, and what was about to be – the redrawing of the power map of the world by the forces of decolonization’ (2009: 164). If the enmeshment of art and politics distinguishes Lamming’s work from the outset, he has also championed the sovereignty of the creative imagination as a free activity of the mind that may be politically engaged but remains independent of social and political movements, even those that the artist may be in sympathy with.