• Level: GCSE
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Walcott depicts himself as "the mulatto of style" in "What the Twilight Says: An Overture. Discuss the factors that may have contributed to this self reference and how this "mulatto of style" has been reflected in his work

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Introduction

Advanced Seminar Oral Question: Walcott depicts himself as "the mulatto of style" in "What the Twilight Says: An Overture. Discuss the factors that may have contributed to this self reference and how this "mulatto of style" has been reflected in his work and has contributed to the creation of his own voice. Derek Alton Walcott was born at Castries, St Lucia, on 23rd January 1930, son of Warwick and Alix Walcott with a twin brother Roderick Aldon Walcott and a sister who was two years older. His artistically gifted father died after an operation in 1931 when the boys were barely one year old. His mother served as headmistress to a Methodist Grammar School. The Urban Dictionary defines "mulatto" as someone of mixed heritage where one parent is black and the other white." As an inheritor of two vitally rich cultures, Walcott descended from a white grandfather and a black grandmother on both the paternal and maternal sides and he is a living example of the divided loyalties and hatreds that keep his society suspended between two worlds. His paternal grandfather was an Englishman from the island of Barbados and his maternal grandfather was a Dutchman from Saint Maarteen with his grandmothers being predominantly of African origin. Walcott's ancestral roots is one factor that has contributed to his "mulatto style" and has certainly augured well for Walcott providing him with a rich history that has certainly informed his writing.

Middle

In some of his early works examples of these would include: - In 25 Poems there were titles such as "Elegies", "In Death are all Honourable" - In Epitaph for the Young, Hamlet's "Alas poor Yorick" becomes "Alas poor Warwick" (the name of Walcott's father) - Henri Christophe(1950) a play written in verse Jacobean style with quotations from Hamlet and Richard III heading two parts of the play. - The Sea at Dauphin(1954) Walcott's third drama was modeled after Synge's Riders to the Sea was his first folk play - Ti-Jean and His Brothers, the catalyst came from the Orient: the Japanese Kabuki and Noh traditions Because Walcott's culture as a West Indian is fed by multiple tributaries, Walcott does not stop with imitation. He does not only accept the fact but he is inspired by it. A true artist's apprenticeship never ends Although the styles of his youthful period were predominantly Western; it is interesting to note that the material is inherently Caribbean. . Walcott's sources of inspiration are wide ranging; he experiments continually - fitting Old World style into New World content; he tries on a variety of masks, and he passes through a number of evolutionary phases. The St Lucian landscape indelibly has contributed to Walcott's artistic development and "mulatto of style".

Conclusion

the later verse refers to the process of converting experience into art, whether it be the printed word or the painted canvas. Reprinting poem "L" from Midsummer Walcott speaks of his father Warwick's hand moving in his: ....now, when I rewrite a line, or sketch on fast-drying paper the coconut fronds that he did so faintly, my daughters' hands move in mine.6 This "mulatto of style" became a Nobel Laureate in 1992. When the Nobel Prize Selection Committee examined Walcott in 1992, they found a repository of the best New World culture, a writer who by birth (roots), by environment (education & culture and landscape) and by personal commitment had lived multiculturalism long before the bete noire of political correctness made this term a cause to celebrate. Derek Walcott, "the mulatto of style" has already added invaluable living treasure to the world's store of experience. Notes 1. "A Far Cry from Africa," in In a Green Night (London: Jonathan Cape, 1962), 18. 2. "What the Twilight Says: An Overture', Dream on Monkey Mountain and Other Plays (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1970; London: Jonathan Cape, 1972) pp.3-40, p.10. 3. Hamner, Robert. Derek Walcott Updated Version Twayne Publishers New York 1993 4. "What the Twilight Says," in Dream on Monkey Mountain (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1970),4. 5. Dream, p.32. 6. Collected Poems 1948-1984 (New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1986),504.

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