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Chimeras of FormModernist Internationalism Beyond Europe, 1914-2016$
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Aarthi Vadde

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780231180245

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: September 2017

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231180245.001.0001

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Stories Without Plots

Stories Without Plots

The Nomadic Collectivism of Claude McKay and George Lamming

Chapter:
(p.108) 3 Stories Without Plots
Source:
Chimeras of Form
Author(s):

Aarthi Vadde

Publisher:
Columbia University Press
DOI:10.7312/columbia/9780231180245.003.0004

The third chapter brings together Caribbean-born migrant writers Claude McKay and George Lamming, and forms a bridge across the divides of period and national literature that usually assign McKay to the Harlem Renaissance and Lamming either to the category of postwar black British literature or Caribbean literature. In allowing these two writers to converge, I argue that a paranational account of modernist internationalism emerges in their mutual formal and theoretical engagement with plotlessness. A lack of a plot, understood in the polysemic terms of a planned-out heteronormative life, a collective political program, and a patch of land to call home, becomes the common ground from which McKay’s Banjo: A Story without a Plot (1929) and Lamming’s The Emigrants (1954) explore the fugitive life and fantasies of colonial black subjects within a securitized Europe. In deforming plot and finding an alternative idiom, rhythm, and structure for the mobility of stigmatized populations, McKay and Lamming’s novels anticipate contemporary theories of cosmopolitics and international law (namely, those of Etienne Balibar, Seyla Benhabib, and Nicolae Gheorghe), which have argued for the accommodation of transience within territorialized models of belonging and citizenship.

Keywords:   Claude McKay, George Lamming, Diaspora, Novel, transnational citizenship, cosmopolitics

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