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CrazyFruits » Entertainment Movies Trailors & More Interesting Things » Book resurrects life of a Jamaican icon

Book resurrects life of a Jamaican icon

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1COOLER Book resurrects life of a Jamaican icon on Mon 14 Apr 2014 - 20:30



Glenville Ashby

1 2 >

Glenville Ashby, GUEST COLUMNIST
Book: John Hearne's Life and Fiction: A Critical Biographical Study
Author: Shivaun Hearne
Publisher: Caribbean Quarterly, UWI, Mona, Jamaica, 2013
Reviewer: Dr Glenville Ashby

John Hearne's Life and Fiction: A Critical Biographical Study is an exposition that merges an artist with his canvas, a writer with his pen. More important, it examines the moulding of an artist. Shivaun Hearne offers a scholastic oeuvre that comes alive with colour and verve. It is an exhaustively researched work punctuated with academic rigour.
That Hearne's work appears anachronistic, on the cusp of irrelevance, is challenged by the author. She argues, in compelling style, that a country is an amalgam of many cultural epochs, none outstripping the other in worth. This is the crux of Hearne's thesis.
John Hearnes was raised in a period that was afflicted by the embers of plantocracy and the unsavoury canons on class, race, and 'shadism'. His was a family that enjoyed the privileges seized by society's upper crust. Here, several observations can be gleaned. Hearne's merit was attributed to structured familial grooming, but also his (own) personal adventurism.
He attended the most prestigious schools and had the mantras of the privileged drilled into him by his elders. Indeed, his home was a replica of a highly stratified society. His work reflected that much. Colonial and post-colonial societies do reflect their artists' zeitgeist in as genuine a manner as possible. Unfortunately, social critics can be unforgiving, dismissive of yesterday's spirit. Some are blinded by political opportunism, thereby marginalising achievements of the past. But Hearne's compendium transcends politics. It is classical existentialism that bleeds with the joys and anguish of the human experience. It brilliantly portrays the crises that beset many an artist. Of Hearne's self doubt, we learn: "The internal battle between wanting to be a poet, but having the talent for prose seemed to nag at Hearne more than he would admit. He continued to write, more poetry than prose ... and suffered through the lulls and dry spells."
Heavy drinking soon emerged as a nemesis to his literary prowess. "Whether alcoholism was the result or the cause of his increased depression is impossible to say. What is certain is that his periods of guilt and self-loathing grew and his creative writing suffered," surmises the author.
Meeting of the minds
During his sojourn in London in the early 1950s, he met with other West Indian literary giants such as George Lamming, V.S. Naipaul, and Samuel Selvon. This was a period of acculturation with all its personal struggles and misgivings.
The author is reserved in casting Hearne as an unapologetic conservative. And rightly so. Ever the master of framing reality within a fictional context, his Voices under the Window should be explored for its sheer brilliance in creativity. In this masterpiece, he casts himself as Mark Latimer, "the light-skinned, politically-active lawyer". Here, "Lattimer attempts to save a little boy from being trampled by the crowd", and "is fatally wounded by an enraged mulatoo man" spewing racial expletives. He writes, "The black people bellowing at me to get off their necks and the whites, too, screaming nervously, not so often, more refined, whenever I came nearer than a certain limit."
Although Hearne might have missed the opportunity to redeem himself politically, because, 'Lattimer' second-guessed his motives, Voices speaks volumes of the raging battle between the human conscience and the forces of revolution.
Effortlessly, Hearne's revelatory book moves us to revisit the past without blinders. No doubt, we stand to garner profound lessons from John Hearnes' timeless artistry.


Where can i get this book to buy?


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