Allusions in Omeros: Notes and a Guide to Derek Walcott's Masterpiece

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Omeros, a transatlantic Homeric epic poem, is widely considered the masterwork of Nobel laureate Derek Walcott and one of the most important pieces of postcolonial Caribbean literature. Yet it is also Walcott's most challenging work. In Omeros, Walcott constructs strategic layers of allusions and references that occasionally escape even seasoned scholars. This guide provides exhaustive textual annotations and is the ideal resource for mapping the intricate matrix of allusions in this influential poem. Using extensive research in St. Lucia, the birthplace of Walcott, Maria McGarrity illuminates a wide range of references that include classical literature, world mythologies, colonial politics, modern painting, the Caribbean contexts of Omeros, modern epics, the African elements of West Indian culture, and the critical African nexus within global cultures. In addition to extensive annotations and summaries of the poem's seven books, McGarrity draws attention to the lyricism of Walcott's language, the amazing originality of the poem's structure, and the stunning gaps that are spanned when far-removed allusions unexpectedly relate. When the allusions in Omeros are fully understood, these points of connection usher readers into a fascinating continuum of time and place in which the rich historical past is wrapped up in the contemporary present.