Selvon, Samuel Dickson (1923-)
was born to East Indian parents in San Fernando, Trinidad, and was educated at Naparima College, Trinidad. Graduating in 1938 with a Senior Cambridge Certificate, Selvon subsequently equipped himself for his writing career through professional experience and on-the-job training. . . . between 1945 and 1950, . . .he published a number of short stories, poems, and articles in Caribbean magazines. Between 1950 and 1952 Selvon was a free-lance writer in England, where he became internationally recognized. He moved to Canada in 1978. . . .
Selvon began his international career with his first novel, A Brighter Sun, which is set in Trinidad and explores peasant experience during socio-economic change. . ..
With the exception of The Lonely Londoner, [Selvon's] novels [before The Lonely Londoner] focus on the everyday experience of islanders in Trinidad. The Lonely Londoner portrays in a humorous manner the experience of the expatriate West Indians in London. . . .
A sequel to The Lonely Londoner--
Moses Ascending (1975) expresses what may be Selvon's most trenchant social criticism, which he communicate through a hybrid form of English that combines Trinidad creole English and Standard English.
Moses Migrating (1983) Moses returns to Trinidad as an ambassador of British cultural pride, providing the reader with many ironic contrasts between colonizer and colonized.
His major concerns:
Unlike Naipaul, who portrays his fellow islanders as disadvantaged victims who are rootless, unimportant, and uncreative, Selvon writes with a genuine pride in his people and in their country, despite the social disadvantages and faded dreams that define their world.
Selvon's career places him in the two worlds of colonial and post-colonial
experience. His work extends from the period of waning colonial control
by Britain, through the dislocating experience of exile ( The Lonely
Londoner ) and the disappointing search for synthesis and completeness
in Moses Ascending, to the hopeful resumption of the search
in Moses Migrating, which combines the ironies and
contrasts of failed experience and fantasy. (Benson,
Background of Caribbean immigration to U.K.
By the 1956, when The Lonely Londoners was first published, the
annual figure for migrants from the West Indies had reached over 25,000.
This was the period when extended families would materialise in the thin
air of Waterloo Station ... ( Ramchand 4)
By the mid-1950s the traditional open door policy to Commonwealth citizens began to be questioned, and in November 1961 a Commonwealth Immigrants Bill to restrict this flow was introduced in the House of Commons. The figures for 1960 and the first ten months of 1961 (52,655 and 52,849 respectively) represent a surge of panic arising from anti-immigration rumblings in the United Kingdom. But by this time, too, nobody believed that the streets of London were paved with gold or that the natives were all friendly.
Differential incorporation of West Indians in UK (Stuart Hall's view)
By the end of 1950's, the strategy of "Black assimilation" had already been cast aside…
Next came the strategy of "acceptance" which meant that Blacks took on and accepted the role of second-class citizens. Hall writes that "what was primarily at issue here was the differential incorporation of the Black community into the White respectable working class. Its outcome would have been, not fusion with, but "informal segregation" within, the culture of a subordinate class. …
Another strategy was to separate West Indians even further from mainstream society. In order to do this, West Indians had to form an enclave community, or what Hall calls "a colony society":
1. Britain began earlier, included more of the less educated and skilled . . .Although Canada encourage women to emigrate to fill domestic service vacancies, the number never reached significant proportions.
2. UK -- settle in and around London and the Midlands, the industrial area of the country. They are ghettoized in specific areas of cities. In Canada, . . .the pattern of industrial decline, . . . has not happened to the same extent as in Britain. (Henry 21)
LIME OR LIMIN' : group of people hanging out,
loafing, pleasure occasion