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Jean Rhys had to leave her home to truly see it

by Gabrielle Bellot

On some mornings in the capital, thick with heat and a silence punctuated only by the insomnia whine of mosquitoes, Jean Rhys would wake up, briefly smiling, for she was convinced she had gone to bed white and woken up black. “Dear God, let me be black,” she prayed.

She was young, then, but that dream—which was more an archetype of fitting in—would scarcely age, following her, if with ever smokier footsteps, through her life. At the time she lived in Roseau, the small labyrinthine capital of Dominica, where she had been born in 1890 to a Welsh immigrant father and a white Creole mother of Scottish ancestryIn those days near the dawn of a new century the island still had few roads and some people rode boats from one town to the next to bypass the chaos of the jungle, and so cut off were some distant villages that they existed more as rumor, ghost-flicker, than map point, but despite living in such an important town, Rhys—a woman containing multitudes—often felt alone, visible as the sands steeped black-gray in volcano far across the island, yet alone, all the same. This mixed sense of self and cultural identity came to inform all of her novels but none more so than her masterpiece, Wide Sargasso Sea.

Please, continue reading on the Lit Hub page, October 26, 2017


on 26.10.2017 at 15:21
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