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Audubon, Another Vision: Derek Walcott's 'White Egrets' and Adam's Task of Giving Things Their Names

Fumagalli, MC (2015) 'Audubon, Another Vision: Derek Walcott's 'White Egrets' and Adam's Task of Giving Things Their Names.' New West Indian Guide / Nieuwe West-Indische Gids, 89 (3-4). pp. 231-257. ISSN 1382-2373

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In Derek Walcott's 'White Egrets' (2010) the titular birds play a central role in the conversation that the poet opens up with the ornithological artist John James Audubon. Audubon's work is the fruit of complex negotiations between life and death, humans and animals, real presences and emblems. Walcott?s examination of these negotiations enables him to reconsider Audubon?s poetics and ethics of representation whilst rearticulating his own. Walcott referred to poetry (and painting) as 'Adam's task of giving things their names': a statement that might be taken to suggest an exploitative perspective and an anthropocentric approach which dismisses the need to treat nonhumans ethically. 'White Egrets,' instead, emphasizes interaction rather than prevarication, showing that 'naming' the world can only be significant and regenerative if the 'things' to be 'named' play their part in the creative process rather than being sealed off from the human world in order to be reified and exploited.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: animals; White Egrets; environmental imagination; Walcott; Audubon
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities
Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
SWORD Depositor: Elements
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 16 Oct 2015 12:21
Last Modified: 06 Jan 2022 13:39

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