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“Not walled facts, their essence”: Derek Walcott’s Tiepolo’s Hound and Camille Pissarro

Fumagalli, MC (2018) '“Not walled facts, their essence”: Derek Walcott’s Tiepolo’s Hound and Camille Pissarro.' Journal of Commonwealth Literature. ISSN 0021-9894

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Abstract

Life-writing — a genre which goes beyond traditional biography, includes both fact and fiction, and is concerned with either entire lives or days-in-the-lives of individuals, communities, objects, or institutions — has always played an important role in Derek Walcott’s work, from Another Life (1973),Walcott’s autobiography in verse, to his last play O Starry Starry Night (2014), where he re-imagines Paul Gauguin and Vincent Van Gogh’s (often tempestuous) cohabitation in the so-called “Yellow House” in 1888 Arles. In Tiepolo’s Hound (2000), Walcott’s life rhymes with that of the Impressionist painter Jacob Camille Pissarro, who was born in the Caribbean island of St Thomas in 1830. In this work, biographical and autobiographical impulses, fact and fiction, are productively combined, as “creation” (what “might have happened”) shapes Walcott’s life-writing as much as “recreation” (what “actually” happened). Walcott’s Pissarro is an individual immersed in a set of historical networks but also a figure at the centre of a web of imagined relations which illuminate the predicament of present and past artists in the Caribbean region and the ways in which they articulate their vision vis-à-vis the metropolitan centre, their relationship with their social and natural environment, and their individual and collective identity. Tiepolo’s Hound is enriched by the inclusion of twenty-six of Walcott’s own paintings which engage in conversation with the poet’s words and add complexity to his meditation on the nature and purpose of (re)writing and (re)creating lives. Extending the catholicity of life-writing to animals, in this case dogs and, in particular, mongrels, Tiepolo’s Hound also entails a careful, if counterintuitive, evaluation of anonymity.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: Derek Walcott; Tiepolo’s Hound; Camille Pissarro; painter; life-writing; fact and fiction
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities > Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies, Department of
Depositing User: Elements
Date Deposited: 01 Oct 2018 13:58
Last Modified: 31 Oct 2018 12:15
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/23173

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