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Guyana Classics

C. Barrington Brownbrown_canoe_and_camplife_cover.jpg

CANOE AND CAMP LIFE IN BRITISH GUIANA

with an Introduction by Chris Campbell

Canoe and Camp Life (1876) encourages us to reflect on the historical construction of the Guyanese interior itself. Brown's narrative operates on the threshold of what can be seen as three phases of imagining the forest space. The first of these is the early vision of the interior as a dangerous space of great yet concealed wealth, typified by the myth of El Dorado and the hopes that penetration of the landscape would both reward and economically drive the incursions of European empires in the Americas. Brown's narrative emerges from the shadow of this conceptualisation and contributes to what might be seen as a nineteenth century adaptation of it. The forest space becomes then a botanical El Dorado, a storehouse of possibilities for scientific inquiry and the progression of knowledge, and a space which may hold answers to the great questions of the time. Finally, Canoe and Camp Life anticipates more recent trends in conceptualising the rainforests of the globe. The space Brown's travels cover still represents an area of contested knowledge today.

 


N. E. Cameroncameron_guianese_poetry_cover.jpg

GUIANESE POETRY

with an Introduction by Gemma Robinson

An anthology that charts not only the rise of poetry in colonial Guyana, but also one that surveys an emerging national poetics, the poetics of Empire and slavery, experiments in literary form,
and one that provides a key chapter in the country's history of the book.

The ninety-three poems collected here voice the shifting emphases of several generations of poets, variously identifying their population as 'Demerara's sons' (Egbert Martin, 'Leo'), 'sons of Africa' (T. R. F. Elliot) and 'Guiana's sons' (Walter MacA. Lawrence). These differing labels mark the changing times and possible future identities of people in the South American territory. In Cameron's generation the futures of the Caribbean colonies were debated in terms both political and cultural, and the date of the anthology's publication is significant. 1931 was a year of great inspiration to Guianese. It was the Centenary of the Union of the three counties of Berbice, Essequibo and Demerara into the Colony of British Guiana. An outburst of literary activity greeted the event.



Martin Cartercarter_selected_poems_cover.jpg

POÉSIAS ESCOGIDAS /

with an Introduction by Gemma Robinson

Translated by Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres

This dual language selection of Martin Carter's poems, translated into Spanish by Salvador Ortiz-Carboneres will establish very clearly that Carter is a major South American poet, in the company of Valejo, Neruda and Paz. The late Martin Carter was without doubt one of the Caribbean's major poets, only less well known than Walcott and Brathwaite because he rarely left his native Guyana. He came to notice first for his Poems of Resistance (1954) written out of his experience of the anti-colonial struggle which included his imprisonment by the British for his political activities. His work has been a major influence on the current generation of Caribbean poets as John Agard, David Dabydeen, Fred D'Aguiar, Kwame Dawes, Linton Kwesi Johnson, Grace Nichols among others have elsewhere testified.

 


Cecil Clementiclementi_the_chinese_in_bg_cover.jpg

THE CHINESE IN BRITISH GUIANA

with an Introduction by Anne-Marie Lee-Loy

Some 18,000 Chinese migrated to the British West Indies in the nineteenth century – around 13,500 to British Guiana alone. Who were these initial migrants? Why did they make the journey? And what were their lives like once they arrived?

As early as 1915, the then Colonial Secretary of Guyana, Sir Cecil Clementi, sought to answer some of these very questions in The Chinese in British Guiana, a text that compiles and analyses colonial documents pertaining to Chinese indentured labour; for it was as indentured labourers that the Chinese first entered the region. In doing so, Clementi provides an important historical record for Guyana and the former British West Indian colonies as a whole by establishing the long-term presence and contribution of the Chinese in the Caribbean. The Chinese in

British Guiana provides a thorough and detailed record of nineteenth century Chinese indentured labour from an administrative perspective. In the process, it also provides an opportunity to better understand the inconsistencies of colonial discourse.



Robert Grievegrieve_asylum_journal_1_cover.jpg

THE ASYLUM JOURNAL

with an Introduction by Letizia Gramaglia

Volume 1 (1881-1882)

Dr Robert Grieve (1839-1906) worked as Medical Superintendent of the Public Lunatic Asylum in British Guiana between 1875 and 1886, and later became General Surgeon of the colony. An enlightened and zealous Scotsman, Grieve revolutionised the local treatment of mental illness and transformed the Berbice asylum into a modern and efficient institution. He implemented the principles of non-restraint, redecorated the asylum, launched a programme of weekly entertainment for the inmates, and introduced occupational therapy. The Asylum Journal, written by Grieve over a five-year period, conveys the doctor's fervent interest in scientific progress and provides a unique insight into the curative strategies he adopted.



Robert Grieve

grieve_asylum_journal_2_cover.jpg

THE ASYLUM JOURNAL

with an Introduction by Letizia Gramaglia

Volume 2 (1883-1886)

Dr Robert Grieve (1839-1906) worked as Medical Superintendent of the Public Lunatic Asylum in British Guiana between 1875 and 1886, and later became General Surgeon of the colony. An enlightened and zealous Scotsman, Grieve revolutionised the local treatment of mental illness and transformed the Berbice asylum into a modern and efficient institution. He implemented the principles of non-restraint, redecorated the asylum, launched a programme of weekly entertainment for the inmates, and introduced occupational therapy. The Asylum Journal, written by Grieve over a five-year period, conveys the doctor's fervent interest in scientific progress and provides a unique insight into the curative strategies he adopted.



Roy Heathheath_the_shadow_bride_cover.jpg

THE SHADOW BRIDE

with an Introduction by Ameena Gafoor

Roy Heath has long been recognised as a major Caribbean writer. Originally from Georgetown, Guyana, he emigrated to England at the age of twenty-four to study at London University.

Intense and moving, The Shadow Bride is both a powerful tale of human hope and an unforgettable portrait of the Indian community in Guyana. The story begins in the late 1920s with Betta Singh's return from his medical studies in Dublin to Guyana and the opulent chaos of his mother's household. Mrs Singh, a curiously vulnerable widow and fiercely possessive mother, wears pants and gives orders like a man. Betta rejects the insulated world of his mother's home and once again leaves her, accepting an appointment as a Government Medical Officer on a sugar plantation run by British expatriates.


 

John Edward Jenkinsjenkins_the_coolie_cover.jpg

THE COOLIE: HIS RIGHTS AND WRONGS

with an Introduction by Letizia Gramaglia

In August 1870 a Royal Commission of Enquiry was set up to investigate the condition of Indian and Chinese immigrants in British Guiana. The findings of the Commission were critically reviewed by John Edward Jenkins, a radical barrister particularly sensitive to imperial issues, chosen by the Aborigines Protection Society and the Anti-Slavery Society to observe and report on the proceedings of the investigation.

Jenkins collated the results of his observation in The Coolie, his Rights and Wrongs (1871), a meticulous work in which he denounced the corruption of officers and magistrates involved in the immigration system and offered a forthright account of what he had witnessed in British Guiana. Biased laws, arbitrary incarceration, unfair wages, scarcity of women, inadequate accommodation and daily aggravations, made the immigrants' life miserable and jeopardised the well-being of the colony. Yet, in offering his criticism Jenkins did not act against the planters or out of mere compassion for the immigrants, “but in the general interest of colonial well-being and good government.”



Egbert Martinegbert_martin_selected_poems_cover.jpg

SELECTED POEMS

with an Introduction by David Dabydeen

The first native West Indian poet of substance, forerunner of Derek Walcott, Kamau Brathwaite and other writers from the region who have contributed significantly to world literature.

Egbert Martin (writing under the name 'Leo') was born in British Guiana around 1861 and died when he was only 29. Crippled at an early age, Martin overcame the deprivations of colonial existence to publish, in London, in 1883, his Poetical Works, a substantial volume which Lord Tennyson admired. In 1886, Leo's Local Lyrics appeared, the very first volume of poetry to be published in the colony. His collection of short stories, Scriptology, was published in 1885. The selection now published aims to restore Martin's reputation as a talented Victorian poet and master of Victorian metrical forms, writing on the universal themes of love, loss and death as well as the local landscape and its peoples.

 


Sir Walter Raleghsir_walter_raleigh_cover.jpg

THE DISCOVERIE OF GUIANA

with an Introduction by Jonathan Morley

Modern Guyana came into being, in the Western imagination, through the travelogue of Sir Walter Ralegh (1595). Ralegh was as beguiled by Guiana’s landscape as he was by the prospect of plunder.

Soldier, sea-captain, courtier and poet, Ralegh was not alone in his dreams of El Dorado, for the idea of the Americas gripped the Elizabethan imaginary. This new edition of The Discoverie argues that, for Ralegh, ‘gold’ was as much a poetic device as a reality; that Guiana was as much an imagined space as geographical territory.



Theophilus Richmond

richmond_the_first_crossing_cover.jpg

THE FIRST CROSSING

with an Introduction by David Dabydeen, Jonathan Morley,

Brinsley Samaroo, Amar Wahab & Brigid Wells

The newly discovered diary of the first journey in the trade in indentured Indians, which saw half a million labourers shipped from India to the Caribbean plantations between 1838 and 1917. Hundreds of thousands more Indians were also sent to Mauritius, Fiji and Africa. Theophilus Richmond was employed by Sir John

Gladstone (father of the British Prime Minister) as ship's surgeon aboard the Hesperus, which set sail from Liverpool in June 1837 for India, via Mauritius, to collect the first batch of Coolies to be shipped to Gladstone's former slave estates in Demerara, British Guiana. Recently qualified as a doctor, the mischievous young Richmond's diary bears light-hearted witness to his exploits at sea, his infatuation with the Creole beauties of Mauritius, and his escapades in India where, disdainful of Muslim and Hindu customs, he pokes fun at the natives; finally it testifies to his resourcefulness and compassion in the face of tragedy when cholera breaks out among his human cargo, bound for Demerara.