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Publisher Description

Shakespeare's The Tempest (1611) has become one of the most widely rewritten literary texts in the wake of postcolonial concerns. (1) Some of these rewritings are based on rereadings of the canonical text from the perspective of the colonial subject. One of the early influential Anglophone rereadings of the play was George Lamming's The Pleasures of Exile (1960), which uses the Prospero/Caliban relationship as a metaphor for the encounter between colonizer and colonized, and stresses Caliban's (mis)appropriation of the master's language as an act of revenge for being dispossessed of the island. Lamming is not the first to read The Tempest as a colonial allegory, but his reading has a pioneering significance, since it suggests an alternative to Shakespeare's representation of the colonizer/colonized relationship. (2) Since then, a number of rewritings have appeared centring on the Prospero/Caliban relationship. Superficially, The Tempest is a play about Prospero's "civilizing" of Caliban, as well as about his revenge through magic, his recovery of his Milan dukedom from the usurpers, and the marriage of his daughter Miranda to Ferdinand, making her queen of Naples. On a deeper level, The Tempest can be read as the father's plot--Prospero's plot for his virtuous and dutiful daughter Miranda of whom he says, "I have done nothing but in care of thee" (1.2:16). It is the father's plot for his daughter, along with Prospero's colonial story of the island that intrigued Marina Warner and propelled her to write Indigo, or Mapping the Waters (1992). What Warner contests in Indigo, therefore, is not so much the brutalization of Caliban, as the silencing of the female characters Sycorax and Miranda. Displacing the usual Prospero/Caliban opposition through a revisioning of the character of Miranda, and recasting her as a Creole in a lavish evocation of a Caribbean consciousness--a strategy reminiscent of Wide Sargasso Sea--Indigo becomes another important text for the discussion of race and miscegenation as elements in the construction of Caribbean colonial history. To make the rewriting historically meaningful so as to suggest "history is sea," that is a constantly changing surface with capacity for interrogation, supplement and resounding of many voices, (3) Warner structures Indigo along a colour-spectrum drawn from indigenous flora and fauna of the island, corresponding to the various stages of the story. The first, entitled "Lilac/Pink," tells the story of the modern Everards family in post-war London; the second section, "Indigo/Blue," reconstructs Sycorax and her matriarchy, and so on until the last stage, "Maroon/Black," is reached where the story of Miranda (maroon) and Caliban (black Felix) is retold. The novel therefore comprises, as Patrick Parrinder puts it, "a narrative continuum and a changing spectrum," shedding light of different colours on history (12). By naming the novel Indigo, Warner wants "to introduce a pattern of many colours, and suggest their mingling" (Signs 265). Since indigo is the original colour used in blueprints, it invites the reader to "look for the story and scheme that lay beneath the visible layers," and suggests that "there is always another story beyond the story," and that "there is always as it were another deep blueprint" (265).

Professional & Technical
January 1
University of Calgary, Department of English
The Gale Group, Inc., a Delaware corporation and an affiliate of Cengage Learning, Inc.

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