“Never-ending stories”: da The Tempest di William Shakespeare alle riletture e riscritture del grande classico nella letteratura caraibica


Abstract – Shakespeare’s The Tempest (1611), despite the lightness of tone required by its romance genre, is a complex and many-sided play, an inexhaustible wealth of ideas to be explored and revisited in order to deal with questions which are still relevant and urgent in our contemporary society. The extraordinary number of critical re-readings and rewritings of The Tempest, which re-imagine the authoritative source text either celebrating or contesting it, is a clear sign of its power to engender a fruitful and provocative debate, which has guaranteed its constant “actualization” throughout the centuries. While literary critics have produced memorable pages investigating virtually every aspect of the play, this chapter, moving from an analysis of the romance which emphasises the richness of its suggestions and implications, intends to stimulate a reflection on the driving force exerted by the creative Word of the Bard, which is able to generate a dialogue that crosses sterile and fictitious barriers between worlds and cultures. Interesting expressions of such a debate are the innumerable and varied appropriations and transformations of The Tempest in Caribbean literature, which has turned the rewriting of the classics into a strategy of cultural decolonization, as in the following texts that will be taken into examamination: Aimé Césaire’s play Une tempête. D’après La Tempête de Shakespeare. Adaptation pour un théâtre nègre (1969), Edmund Kamau Brathwaite’s poem “Caliban” (1969), George Lamming’s novel Water With Berries (1971) and his collection of essays The Pleasures of Exile (1960). The closing part of this chapter is devoted to the analysis of Marina Warner’s Indigo (1992), a peculiar refashioning of the Shakespearean play overlapping feminist and postcolonial claims, a novel which could be included among the “Caribbean” rewritings, despite the British origins of the author, because of its fundamental preoccupations. Indigo is adopted as a significant example of the productive intertwinings of issues and claims generated by The Tempest, an immortal classic which has activated processes of cross-cultural fertilization transcending spatial and temporal boundaries.

DOI Code: 10.1285/i22390359v27p179

Keywords: Shakespeare; The Tempest; rewriting; Caribbean literature; creative word


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