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137 reviews George Lamming. Season ofAdventure. London: Allison & Busby, 1979. $6.95 (paper). Speer Morgan. Brother Enemy. Boston & Toronto: Atlantic-Little Brown, 1981. $13.95. Season ofAdventure is the story ofthe West Indian, Fola, illegitimate daughter ofAgnes who, with her Police Commissioner husband, Fola's stepfather, is now a secure member of island middle-class society. The story relates Fola's increasing rejection of the values of the class her parents have risen to and to which she belongs, rejection stemming from an unwilling visit with her European secondary school teacher to the tonneUe, the Africanoriginated , lower-class ceremony of the dead. As the book progresses, Fola teams up with another rebel, the exceUent painter, Chiki. Chiki is a product of the poor, uneducated Forest Reserve where the ceremony of the dead is performed but he had left the Reserve to attend secondary school in the capital as a scholarship student and had begun to undergo a process of significant social change upwards. However, the process is stopped when he is expelled from school for poUtical comments during a British Governor's visit and he is now a loner and outsider in his society. The novel, then, deals with family and class tensions and with social and political values (which Fola increasingly questions and repudiates) of a newly independent West Indian island after several decades of European colonization. Lamming's Cristobal is a composite island made up of recognizable names taken from actual West Indian islands and is clearly intended to symbolize the entire West Indies. His vision is of one society, not of separate island societies and, therefore, of one West Indian people. Nor are the rebels, Fola and Chiki, merely individuals, products of a society the values of which they question and in which they can operate only as outsiders. They are meant to symbolize a new consciousness and insight and represent the author's views on new social and poUtical directions for the recently decolonized society. Lamming's intention could be that of Chiki of whom Lamming says that "artist and teacher [are] alike in his mind." The book, then, is a parable and the symbolic dimensions of the characters, in terms of the novel's meaning, are intended to be more significant than their literal, that is, their psychological and social dimensions. It is their impact as philosophical revolutionaries that the author wishes to underline. Unfortunately, it is precisely in their non-literal, in their symbolic aspects, that the characters fail to be convincing. And since the meaning of the novel depends so much on its symbolic action, the story as a whole suffers. Fola's conversion following her visit to the tonneUe, for instance, is never convincing. Yet more than three-fourths ofthe novel is concerned with the consequences of that conversion. Lamming, the artist, strains too much to teach. Where Lamming reveals himself as an acute observer of his society rather than the visionary eager to show what it should or couldbe like, the book works well. A clear picture of human relationships in a specific society, of individuals formed by and reacting to (and in the manner permitted them by) their society, emerges. And this, often, in spite of Lamming 's prose. That prose, overly adjectival and analogical, suggests much authorial self-indulgence and, to this reviewer, frequentlyestablished itselfas an obstacle to a full appreciation ofthe novel. The narrative and, not infrequently, even the dialogue and the thoughts of the characters, bear a burden of knowledge and analogy that is more that ofthe author and his intentions than it is appropriate to the characters or to the novel's actions. Too much, of too Uttle significance, seems included. The book could easily be pruned of incidents, and the excessively Uterary language, of its abundant similies and metaphors. Lamming's language, rich, sonorous, is not always disciplined to the novel's task of characterization, plot and appropriate incident. Perhaps because he is so obviously preoccupied with the actual society which his fiction seeks to explore, Lamming's allegiances sometimes intrude in the world of the novel. The result is a lack of authorial objectivity. His contempt for his middle-class characters sometimes trivializes his portrait...

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Additional Information

ISSN
2157-4189
Print ISSN
0026-5667
Pages
pp. 137-139
Launched on MUSE
2011-07-06
Open Access
No
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