In April 1999 I was invited to give a lecture in the Department of
sented a paper entitled, somewhat ambitiously: ‘‘Conscripts of
Modernity: C. L. R. James’ Toussaint Louverture and the Makin
Caribbean.’’ This book grewout of theyears of wrestling with wh
tenuously and sketchily trying to get at in that lecture. I am gr
more developed versions of that early paper were read as lectur
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, the University of Iowa, Io
and the University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, in February, Ma
April 2000, respectively. I should like to thank my hosts at each
universities for so generously providing me with occasions on w
try out my still-fledgling ideas. In particular, I wish to thank
Jeganathan who invited me to Minneapolis and who pressed me
harder than he found me doing about disaster and suffering.
memorable occasion too Qadri Ismail urged me with subtle q
to consider more carefully than I was Marxism’s relation to t
narrative. Needless to say, I remain ever in their debt.
In the years that followed these lectures I tended to withd
thinking about modernity, tragedy, and the criticism of the post
present away from these sorts of formal public occasions and
instead to try and sort out more clearly for myself what I was a
why it seemed to me that C. L. R. James’s The Black Jacobins—a bo
read as a schoolboy, and every few years since then—was so ex
a stage for my preoccupations. As this internal dialogue began t
face informally, no one was more helpful and supportive than m
Robert Hill with whom I have spent many wonderful hours in se
conversations about James and his intellectual sources. Hill is
literaryexecutor, and there can’t be many with a more intimate a
tance with the textual layers that constitute the complexity of
Previous Page Next Page