In the 1950s and early 1960s no Anglophone Caribbean novelist had a higher profile and was more praised than Edgar Mittelholzer.
He was the first Caribbean writer to earn his living from writing and his earlier novels in particular found enthusiastic reviewers in the UK and USA. But after his suicide in 1965 his reputation sank and until Peepal Tree began republishing his earlier writing in 2007, for several decades, none of his books were in print. This collection of essays charts both the way Mittelholzer’s work was read in the 1960s, 70s and 80s, and shows how a contemporary generation of critics is rediscovering his real merits – the quality of his prose, his literary ambition and the ways in which at least some of Mittelholzer’s ideas about the Caribbean speak to a postnationalist generation.
The essays in this collection explore Mittelholzer’s treatment of race and the divided person, of sexuality, history, heredity and the charge that he wrote pornography. More recent essays discuss his formal inventiveness in exploring analogies for musical forms, the leitmotiv in his fiction, and the diversity of genres he employs in his short stories. Contributors include A.J. Seymour, Michael Gilkes, Joyce Sparer and an important biographical essay from Mittelholzer’s widow, Jacqueline Ward. More recent critics include Keith Jardim, J. Dillon Brown, Juanita Cox and Jeremy Poynting.
The collection is edited by Juanita Cox, whose research on Mittelholzer’s life and writing has played an important role in the rediscovery of this important Caribbean writer.