(Cambridge) [PDF DOWNLOAD] È Caryl Phillips

Aving done the right thing by ending chattel slavery it s too easy to think we ve done enough It s important to know and understand the undergirding ideas that supported slavery because so many of them are still present today We don t see them because like the diarist in part 1 of the novel we are blinded by our privilege and our social power Phillips makes us look at it rubs our faces in it and we can t look away He doesn t give us redemption He doesn t give us a white savior This novel is so relevant today It was avant garde for its time early 90s But now in 2020 we can see the effects of not looking deeply at our past and being too uick to pat ourselves on the back So much of the same oppression continues It is baked into our economics and our politics and our communities and our relationships So is this a fun read no But it s a necessary one And in case the novel feels made up or too extreme for some sensibilities all of it was taken sometimes word for word from travel ournals from that time period This book wasn t entirely easy to get through so thank God it was short The writing was undoubtedly good and I enjoyed learning about an eraworld that I was not previously familiar with But Phillips seemed to do little to keep the reader interested and invested Emily is a thirty year old spinster sent to the Caribbean to see the state of her father s plantation After a treacherous sea voyage on which her maid dies Emily arrives to find that her father s plantation After a treacherous sea voyage on which her maid dies Emily arrives to find that father s plantation manager has disappeared under mysterious circumstances and in hi Beautifully sustained No mere summary can do this story ustice It must be read Set in 19th century in a British West Indies colony The narrator is a British woman of middle years who travels to the islands as a kind of naive ethnographer of the plantation which her father owns By doing so she s forestalling her marriage to an appallingly geezer back in Merry England It s a tricky proposition to create this white British woman of her era and thrust her into a setting in which the keeping of slaves produces few ualms She rejects the island culture which lacks the social securities of life back home She can t abide the estate man Mr Brown And His Obeah Brown and his obeah cum concubine who insists on sitting at the narrator s table uninvited She possesses sympathy but it only goes so far For example she doesn t uestion the source of the luxurious meals she eats Everything depends on a small army of slaves yet she doesn t look into the brute logistics of it all She s in a strange half denial Eventually she comes to see the necessity of slavery in the West Indies for as long as it can survive in the face of American competition Slaves are necessary due to the severity of the climate which white men and draught animals can t endure She thinks of herself as enlightened but she s really only half an intellect She has ambitions of becoming a pro slavery lecturer based on her New World experiences which consist of little than sitting around her father s sugar estate She is a portrait of complacency When Mr Brown is away the obeah woman comes crawling in the dirt outside the narrator s bedroom no doubt casting some spell And wait until you meet Cambridge the highly articulate freeman who like Solomon Northup was stolen into slavery That s the set up The author has a truly formidable skill for misdirection This book goes on the same shelf holding two other fine novels on slavery Charles R Johnson s excellent Middle Passage and Barry Unsworth s Booker award winning Sacred Hunger. S them to devastating effect As a suspenseful and inescapably damning portrait of the schizophrenia of slavery Caryl Phillips's book belongs to the company of Beloved and The Confessions of Nat Turner. Arnold In one of these gaps there occurs the moment that causes the events recorded in the final section and it s an open uestion for the reader where that occurs and who is responsible That will also affect how you interpret other aspects of the different accounts and the varying honesty of the testimoniesI remember reading reviews of this book when it was published At that time relativism and uncertainty were all the rage amongst the reviewers there was a vogue for novels like Mr Wroe s Virgins and Poor Things that play with and maybe commit to the idea that there is no truth above conflicting narratives of events Perhaps Cambridge belongs in that strand I can t be sure Reviewing months or even weeks after reading a book has a mildly distorting effect The mind latches on to those firework elements their brightness seared into our memory although the accompanying smoke has blown away Strangely with this one there was very little that remained A burial at sea A bloody murder Looking at it again I do recall that the voices were convincingly rendered The story was a moving one Only I felt the main narrator was a clumsy device her coming as a stranger to this unspecified West Indian sugar plantation ust after the abolition of the slave trade was a little too obvious a vehicle for some basic history lessons and her coming at all was hardly credible A nearly 30 year old single sent by her father at all was hardly credible A nearly 30 year old single female sent by father England to inspect the source of his wealth What was he thinking 35This book is a truly poignant and important narrative of the injustices and horrors of the slave trade with the use of the dual perspectives of Emily and Cambridge providing a searing uxtaposition and therefore weaving a subtle and effective commentary on this historical moment Phillips excels in description the richness and detail of his descriptive voice instantly transports the reader to the setting of the Carribean as filtered as the landscape is however through Emily s point of view Although written convincingly in the style of a historical ournal through Phillips use of language the novel is still very readable and flowingHowever there are some exceptions to this flowing style The narrative of Cambridge is placed into the novel with no explanation of how it s arrived there in a book that was previously framed as Emily s Comment Devenir Mannequin journal entries The feverish uality of the final section leaves some confusion and an unsatisfying open ending that leaves you frustratingly feeling like you re missing something Overall though I would definitely recommend this book to someone interested in historical or postcolonial literature You don t get the narrative you want but you get the narrative you need This is not a book that will follow the formulas and conventions you are accustomed to I will say I disagree with the review on the cover I don t feel this is a fast paced novel rather it is slow and thoughtful meditative and frustrating Caryl Phillips doesn t give you a white washed self congratulatory version of history He makes you look at the parts you want to forget the vile ugly ones you want to gloss over in favor of the brighter if they can be considered such points We want forget the philosophical and scientific racism that the racist whites used toustify their treatment of African slaves We want forget the social death imposed on blacks when they were ripped from their families and land of origin We want to forget the way that they were denied any future by their white masters When we whites think of ourselves as Dly Christian sense of Kuli Kontrak justice is about to cost him his life In Cambridge one of England's most highly acclaimed young novelists tells their stories with an uncanny authenticity of voice anduxtapose. At first I felt that Emily s account though beautifully and cleverly written was not giving me any new insights or information However that very beauty and cleverness of writing the well researched 19th C voice gives insight into a character and perspective on events that provoke reflection and understanding That first long section moves slowly and then events and writing speed up to show the complexity of human interactions and stories and the impossibility of seeing facts clearly without a particular perspectiveCambridge refuses to be head driver because he says he doesn t want to be in charge of anyone and then a few sentences later is explaining how a man s wife should be owned by him This comment on the diversity of oppression is pointed out uite subtly and is typical of how the book worksSea voyages and the comparisons between them are used carefully to show distances between places and parts of society and to mark how those differences impact on understanding and action I was assigned this book in college and recently realized that I never finished it so I went back and re read it It s a complicated little book The vast majority of it is told in the first person from the perspective of the spinster daughter of an increasingly indebted British landowner She is sent to inspect his sugar plantation in the British West Indies and the majority of the novel is written in the form of her diary recording her experiences and her evolving and complex views on the slavery dependent plantation she finds herself the mistress of I found it a little odd that Phillips a black man chose to write a novel from the perspective of a white woman but he is a masterful mimic of a Jane Austen style heroine in the early 1800s Unfortunately he falls into the same habit Austen has of using pages and pages and pages to describe minute and dull social observations and then rushing way too fast through the major plot pointsThe most memorable part of the book for me was the 30 pages that were written in the first person by the aged slave Cambridge He essentially writes out his life story which is fascinating and could have maybe should have been a novel unto itself His conversion to Christianity is a key plot point in his life story but it also makes this section a little preachy and overwrought But overall his story was Engaging To Me Than Most to me than most the rest of the bookThat said Phillips paints a vivid and painful portrait of life on a sugar plantation in the early 1800s and ultimately by the end of the book I would argue that his feminist message comes across ust as clearly if not clearly than his racial message I wanted to like this book but I couldn t I think because I couldn t shake the thought that the author was interested in making a point than telling a story It seemed almost that he tried too hard to put the reader into the time and place and the minds of the characters Some of the other reviewers seem to be confused by aspects of this book First of all it is set at the time between the banning of the slave trade and the emancipation of all slaves ie a time when cargoes were no longer lawfully coming out of Africa but it was still lawful to own existing slaves in plantations Secondly Emily Cartwright is not travelling alone she has her companion Isabella who dies on the ourney out Those are not the mysteries of the story The real mysteries are the ones that exist in the gaps between sections of each version of the narrative for example the moment where Emily begins to refer to Mr Brown as. A prim and increasingly apprehensive Englishwoman observing the peculiarities and barely veiled brutality of a sugar plantation in the nineteenth century West Indies A devout black slave whose profoun. Cambridge