Wilson Harris

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Sir Theodore Wilson Harris (born 24 March 1921) is a Guyanese writer. He initially wrote poetry, but has since become a well-known novelist and essayist. His writing style is often said to be abstract and densely metaphorical, and his subject matter wide-ranging.


Heartland (1964)[edit]

  • The solid morning mist began to disintegrate and dark shoulders of rock appeared in the water giving the illusion of swimmers, reaching from bank to bank, dispersing from themselves wreaths of snakes with imperceptible strokes.
    • Chapter 1, first line.

The Four Banks of the River of Space (1990)[edit]

The Four Banks of the River of Space, London: Faber and Faber, 1990, pp. 43-45.

  • The flute sings of an ancient riverbead one hundred fathoms deep, far below the Potaro River that runs to the Waterfall. Two rivers then. The visible Potaro runs to the Waterfall. The invisible stream of the river of the dead runs far below, far under our knees. The flute tells of the passage of the drowned river of the dead and the river of the living are one quantum stream possessed of four banks.
  • Once cannot tame the voices of the flute, voices of such uncanny lightness yet miracle of being that they are able to tilt the two rivers, the visible and the invisible rivers, into diagrammatic discourse; and in so doing to create the four banks of the river of space into a ladder upon which the curved music of the flute ascends. Those banks are dislodged upwards into rungs in the ladder and into stepping stones into original space.

The Unfinished Genesis of the Imagination (1999)[edit]

  • There is no economic solution to the ills of the world until the arts of originality […] open the partialities and biases of tradition in ways that address the very core of our pre-possessions.
  • It is not only the gulf between religions and cultures that plaques us today. There is the widening gulf between the rich and the poor, the world of plenty and the world of famine. We may think we can make a good patch work or mechanical arrangement to ameliorate such a division. But this I feel is an illusion. There is no economic solution to the ills of the world until the arts of originality - arts that are driven by mysterious strangeness - open the partialities and bias of tradition in ways that address the very core of our pre-possessions."
    • pg. 251.

Interview with Wilson Harris (2003)[edit]

Interview with Wilson Harris, by Fred D'Aguiar; BOMB Magazine, Winter 2003

  • Cross-culturality differs radically from multiculturality. There is no creative and re-creative sharing of dimensions in multiculturality.
  • “Quantum” brings a hand in fiction that challenges all conventional fixtures of control within the psyche of art.
  • In America today there are many “colored” people who are designated “black” or “African.” Whereas they are mixed with the West—with the so-called whites who represent the West—in blood and spirit. This is a fateful, hidden matter though we do not see it as such. It may be partly responsible for deadly, one-sided polarizations in cultures around the globe that see themselves similarly locked into racial investitures.
  • I am not suggesting that racial admixture is a solution to the world’s grave problems. I am suggesting, however, that a freedom of diverse parts in Nature to blend into variant universals should be open in fiction and art.

The Ghost of Memory (2006)[edit]

The Ghost of Memory, London: Faber and Faber

  • The entertainment industry makes this [phantasmagoria of distraction] easier by elevating the person to the level of the commodity. He surrenders to its manipulations while enjoying his alienation from himself and others. The enthronement of the commodity, with its lustre of distraction…is consistent with the split between utopian and cynical elements.
    • p. 11.

Interview with Wilson Harris (2010) on being Knighted at Queen Elizabeth II Birthday Honours[edit]

Sir Wilson Harris, by Sateesh Maharaj; Trinidad Express Newspapers, July 3, 2010

  • They're hardly given to conventional writers, and a writer like myself is hardly given a knighthood.
  • My writing is quantum writing. Do you know of the quantum bullet? The quantum bullet, when it's fired, leaves not one hole but two. That's how my writing is.
  • So I feel that this is an encouragement to other writers in the region to persist in the their work, even if they feel that what they are doing is not popular, because in the long run it may tell on their behalf.
  • The arts have to be pursued irrespective of what people think.

External links[edit]

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