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Abstract

For a 1989 interview, posted on Banyan’s website and captured in the videotape Footprints (1992), George Lamming is photographed on the shores of his homeland. Lamming stands on the East Coast of Barbados as a littoral figure. In the first image, he smiles at the camera as he looks inland. The horizon is seen over his shoulders, along with a wave cresting against the large rock in the middle-right panel of the photograph. In the second photograph, he faces the horizon. In this latter image, pointing at the horizon, he directs his attention and that of his interviewer to the visual suggestion of the meeting of sky and sea. The powerful and evocative gesture may perhaps suggest that something can be discovered or imagined when an individual walks the coast, stands on the beach, and ponders the horizon. In this essay, “George Lamming’s ‘The Boy and the Sea' : A Littoral Artist’s Experimentation with Language and a Postcolonial Examination of the Sea,” I relate these images to Lamming’s poem, highlighting one of his earliest experimentation with shoreline iconography—a trope he will return to in Castle and other works. I argue that he uses the boy’s placement on the coast to highlight an alienated character’s introspection about social marginalization (for a boy in Barbados and a man in London), and it is through the created text—the poem and the essay in which the poem appears—that Lamming empowers the character (the boy of the poem or young man of the essay) to mediate the personal and cultural dilemmas he must reconcile in order to gain a self-actualized awareness.

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