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Associate professor @ Tsuru Bunka University


Midori Saito is an associate professor at Tsuru Bunka University. She has a PhD from Goldsmiths, University of London. She has contributed to I am Black/White/Yellow (Mango, 2007), and published ‘On Representations of Nature and Women in Caribbean Literature’ in the Hitotsubashi Journal of Arts and Sciences (2014).

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Race and the Legacies of Enslavement


Reading Andrea Levy’s The Long Song (2010)

Andrea Levy’s novel, The Long Song (2010), set in early nineteenth century Jamaica, delineates the history of slavery through the story of July, a former slave girl. The novel is set in the times of Baptist war, portraying continuous domination of the white planter class over the former slaves even after the emancipation. The Long Song has been compared to Jean Rhys’s Wide Sargasso Sea by several critics. While Maria Olaussen states that Rhys’s novel disregards the actual, historical institution of slavery as experienced by black people (Olaussen 1993: 69), Fiona Tolan considers The Long Song as a ‘revisionist project whereby the figure of Bertha/ Antoinette is subject to a further, at least partial, imaginative reconstitution as Levy’s July’ (Tolan 2014: 105). Nevertheless, The Long Song significantly differs from Wide Sargasso Sea. Unlike Wide Sargasso Sea that ends with Bertha/ Antoinette’s self-immolation in protest of slavery, The Long Song celebrates July’s redemption and reclamation of self in the end, as well as unsettling the racial boundaries. In my paper, I shall compare Levy’s The Long Song with Wide Sargasso Sea, especially on the construction of creole identity, and examine the importance of learning about the legacy of slavery through the novel.

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