Encouraged by his teacher, Frank Collymore , Lamming found the world of books and started to write. Career[ edit ] Lamming left Barbados to work as a teacher from to in Port of Spain , Trinidad ,  at El Colegio de Venezuela, a boarding school for boys. He then emigrated to England where, for a short time, he worked in a factory. As he later wrote: "Migration was not a word I would have used to describe what I was doing when I sailed with other West Indians to England in We simply thought we were going to an England that had been painted in our childhood consciousness as a heritage and a place of welcome. It is the measure of our innocence that neither the claim of heritage nor the expectation of welcome would have been seriously doubted.
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There were some wonderful ideas in here, but the book as a whole felt disjointed. Should a book of essays be tied together, really? Otherwise what we have are fairly random essays on disparate topics. Another essay is an account of a trip to Africa, with a few acute observations mixed in with quite a bit of bland travelogue.
A couple of anecdotes in particular stuck in my head. The first was of Lamming and his West Indian friend Polly expecting some important letters but not receiving them.
Instead they got a letter addressed to a neighbour called Singleton. The old woman who answered was scared of them but in the end went to look for the letters, and came back saying: So sorry.
Lamming follows up: We must be clear about here meaning. You will say that the old woman is a simple example of ignorance. But I maintain that ignorant or not, it has fundamentally to do with a way of seeing. In another anecdote, Lamming is reading a poem at a special event for young poets at the Institute for Contemporary Arts in Although he was at the time an anonymous poet with no reputation, just like the others, he received an ovation before he even started reading, and another when he finished.
He asks: What made those highly contemporary intellectuals clap? It was the same kind of judgement the old woman had made, but expressed differently. Lamming tells the story of a middle-aged Trinidadian civil servant arriving on the ship from the West Indies and seeing the small tug boats coming alongside. He looked down at the tugs in consternation. He meant the white hands and faces on the tug … This man had never really felt, as a possibility and a fact, the existence of the English worker.
This sudden bewilderment had sprung from his idea of England; and one element in that idea was that he was not used to seeing an Englishman working with his hands in the streets of Port-of-Spain. The quality of the essays felt too variable, and their subject matter too disparate. Share this:.
The Pleasures of Exile