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The Lonely Londoners (Penguin Modern…

The Lonely Londoners (Penguin Modern Classics) (urspr publ 1956; utgåvan 2006)

av Sam Selvon, Nasta Susheila (Inledning)

MedlemmarRecensionerPopularitetGenomsnittligt betygOmnämnanden
6782225,913 (3.64)76
The Longman Caribbean Writers Series comprises of many classic novels, short stories and plays by the best known Caribbean authors, together with works of the highest quality from new writers.
Titel:The Lonely Londoners (Penguin Modern Classics)
Författare:Sam Selvon
Andra författare:Nasta Susheila (Inledning)
Info:Penguin Classics (2006), Paperback, 160 pages
Samlingar:Ditt bibliotek, Novels


The Lonely Londoners av Samuel Selvon (1956)


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» Se även 76 omnämnanden

engelska (21)  spanska (1)  Alla språk (22)
Visa 1-5 av 22 (nästa | visa alla)
This was surprisingly easy to read, despite the Caribbean dialect and grammar, even the eight or so pages with no punctuation at all. It was amusing in places (I enjoyed the pigeon snatch and the moment when Tolroy's entire family got off the boat train particularly), but also sad and hopeless at the same time. ( )
  pgchuis | Mar 26, 2021 |
It was when I was recently reading In Our Mad and Furious City by Guy Gunaratne that I came across the name Sam Selvon: in a nod to the antecedents of his novel, Gunaratne had named one of his characters after the author who was the first to tell the story of Black Caribbean men who came to London in the mass migrations of the postwar period. Sam Selvon's most famous book The Lonely Londoners (1956) is included in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die, and as I have discovered from even a brief Google search, Selvon is the subject of a great deal of critical interest.

The Penguin Modern Classics edition includes an introduction by Susheila Nasta, but it's not necessary to read it. My advice is to plunge straight in and enjoy the distinctive voice that Selvon pioneered in this novella. Selvon (1923-1994), who came to London as a young man looking to advance his literary career, was born in Trinidad of Indian parents who had migrated from Madras, and his maternal grandfather was Scottish, but the voice that narrates the story is an invented Trinidad creole, partly like standard English, but also with non-standard grammar and distinctive Caribbean idioms such as 'liming' (which means to hang out). For those not keen on reading 'dialect' it's not difficult to understand at all, as you can see from this excerpt about Bart searching for his girl after her father sent him packing in a torrent of racist abuse:
He must be comb the whole of London, looking in the millions of white faces walking down Oxford Street, peering into buses, taking tube ride on the Inner Circle just in the hope that he might see she. For weeks the old Bart hunt, until he become haggard and haunted.

Knowing that she like the night lights, at last Bart get a work at a club as a doorman, and night after night he would be standing up there, hoping that one night Beatrice might come to lime by the club and he would see her again. (p.51-2)
In an article called 'Seeking Sam Selvon' in the journal Transatlantica, Kathie Birat writes that
It is the narrator who sets the tone and rhythm of the narrative, gradually drawing the reader into his way of presenting the world, seducing him with the use of a dialect that goes almost unnoticed, that presents no obstacle to the reader’s understanding, but that determines his perception of the story being told.
The narrator initiates the reader into the world of Moses and friends, in the same way that Moses, an old hand who's been in London for ten years and acts as a reluctant mentor to new arrivals, initiates his friends into his version of London life. In the same article, Birat also explains the impact of a different language on the reader:
The reader “hears” the dialect spoken by Selvon’s characters because it clashes in significant ways with the system of standard English, thus producing a noise, a remainder, to use [the philosopher] Dolar’s term, which draws attention to language itself and to the ways in which it produces meaning. It is the gap, the discrepancy between standard English and dialect, that the reader hears and that leads him to search for the significance of this difference, to account for it in terms of meaning.
In other words, it's the language that enables the reader to recognise that the London of the book is not the London that everyone is familiar with.

The characters, who are almost exclusively Black Caribbean men, speak a more economical version of the same language. In this excerpt, Moses, is amusing himself with the credulous Lewis:
'Moses', he say, 'you think is true that it have fellars does go round by you when you out working and — your wife?

If you tell Lewis that the statue on top of Nelson column in Trafalgar Square is not Nelson at all but a fellar what name Napoleon, he would believe you, and if you tell him that it have lions and tigers in Oxford Circus, he would go to see them. So Moses giving him basket for so.

'How you mean,' Moses say. 'That is a regular thing in London. The wife leave the key under the milk bottle, and while you working out your tail in the factory, bags of fellars round by your house with the wife.' (p.53)
Unfortunately for Lewis's wife, Lewis believes Moses and what happens brings to the fore the way women are talked about and treated in the story. What Selvon was showing was the dislocating effects of family disruption: huge numbers of single men yearning for female companionship and family life, and equally, the way that the emptiness of the life they created as a substitute failed for those few women who did manage to join their men.

To read the rest of my review please visit https://anzlitlovers.com/2019/06/09/the-lonely-londoners-by-sam-selvon/ ( )
  anzlitlovers | Jun 9, 2019 |
Durante los años cincuenta, cada vez eran más los chicos que llegaban a Londres desde las Antillas en busca de trabajo y una vida mejor. Sus sueños a menudo chocaban contra la fría niebla de una ciudad en la que los crecientes prejuicios raciales comenzaban a ocupar las portadas de los periódicos. Muchos de estos nuevos inmigrantes conocieron el hambre, la discriminación y la soledad pero, poco a poco, lograron abrirse camino y procurarse una forma de vida. En torno a la figura de Moisés Aloetta, uno de los primeros trinitenses en llegar a Inglaterra, Solos en Londres despliega un collage de vidas cruzadas y voces singulares que retrata el día a día de la incipiente comunidad negra en el Londres de la posguerra y al mismo tiempo nos ofrece otra visión de la ciudad: la que palpitaba en los barrios de la clase obrera y en los callejones de Notting Hill o Bayswater mucho antes de que fueran arrasados por la gentrificación y donde era habitual ver pancartas que rezaban: Keep Britain White! Solos en Londres es la mejor novela de Sam Selvon y la primera en abordar la temática de la inmigración caribeña desde la óptica de sus verdaderos protagonistas, quienes tanto por sus marcados acentos como por el color de su piel tuvieron que enfrentarse a la exclusión y se vieron forzados a crear una identidad colectiva. Sus voces, sus expresiones, su deslumbramiento ante la gran ciudad, sus éxitos y sus miserias se aúnan en un poderoso retrato actual y humano de la inmigración. Fecha lanzamiento:
  bibliotecayamaguchi | Mar 14, 2018 |
Sam Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners was written in the 1950s in a climate of change for the West Indies and Britain. As the British Empire slowly lost grip of its ‘acquired’ colonies, the British population found themselves with the confronting prospect of their colonial subjects ‘invading’ their white spaces and homeland. The Lonely Londoners tells the story of immigrants coming from the West Indies and Jamaica to London. They are looking for a new start, for a promised land that never seems to live up to their expectations.

London, for many British colonies was and still is an idealised city. Even today, when I speak to many young Australians, they often have a dream of visiting the ‘Mother Country’ and spending time in the city of possibilities: London. (Although if you ask me, 365 days of dark, dank, and dreary weather is not something I call an exciting prospect!) For a city that is surrounded by so much hype it is often hard to not feel disappointed when you finally visit it. And for the characters in Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners, it is often what they experience. They are “spades”, as Selvon calls them, in a sea of white faces. News reporters see them as all the same and these diverse peoples are all lumped into the one boat: they are black and will therefore never be good enough. The beauty though, of Selvon’s writing is that he challenges this monophonic stereotype and enriches the story with a mixture of polyphonic voices that span gender, ethnicity, and class. Selvon manages to tell these imperfect people and their imperfect stories in an honest and unapologetic way. These stories not only reveal racism and discrimination against non-whites in Britain, but also touches on discrimination against white Brits, in particular women.

“Boy, it have bags of white pussy in London, and you will eat till you get tired” (77).

This quote here shows the doubled edged sword of stereotypes: on the one hand, many of these West Indies men are treating white women as an easy prize, and on the other hand, most likely, many white women would be treating these men as a bit of exotic fun before they settle down with a good white husband like their families expect.

Selvon also exposes violence against women in the West Indies and also highlights some of the positive gains West Indies and Jamaican women received when they moved to England.

“Listen, women in this country not like Jamaica, you know. They have rights over here, and they always shouting for something” (54).

Lastly, Selvon touches upon something that feels extremely close to my own heart when he talks about missing home. Moses, the narrator and main protagonist says at the end of the book,

“I go and live in paradise […]” (125).

Home for Moses becomes an abstract, intangible place that can only be accessed through his memories and mind. In thinking of his home as a paradise, he has forgotten why he left and the troubles he tried to escape. Home becomes like a dead relative: memorialised and made divine. It only lives on through memories and nostalgic afternoons spent looking out into the grey fog.

If you want to read something out of your comfort zone from a linguistic and narrative perspective then I urge you to find a copy of Selvon’s book! ASAP. ( )
2 rösta bound2books | Feb 12, 2017 |
The immigrant experience was never so well told as it is in this short novel. Furthermore the ability of the author to demonstrate that experience through his prose was so successful that I was reminded why I love reading. Set in London in the early nineteen fifties it provides an entry into a world that is both far away and familiar at the same time.

Covering a period of roughly three years, it has no plot but is picaresque or episodic as it follows a limited number of characters of the "Windrush generation", all of them "coloureds", through their daily lives in the capital. The various threads of action form a whole through the unifying central character of Trinidadian Moses Aloetta, a veteran emigré who, after more than ten years in London, has still not achieved anything of note and whose homesickness increases as he gets older. Every Sunday morning "the boys", many a recent arrival among them, come together in his rented room to trade stories and inquire after those whom they have not seen for a while.

The immigrants in this story are treated poorly with low-level jobs that are insufficient to provide for more than the most basic necessities. They live on the fringe of the host society that regards them with indifference or hostility. Throughout the force of race and color prejudice is shown in incidents and through conversations but always with a sense of the human comedy that buoys most of the Caribbean natives that populate the story. Moses who has been in London a while shares his experience with newcomers or tries to if they will listen to him.

Early in the story Moses meets a newcomer named Henry Oliver (nicknamed Galahad) who is just "off the boat".
"From the very beginning they out to give you the impression that they hep, that they on the ball, that nobody could tie them up.
Sir Galahad was a fellar like that, and he was trying hard to give Moses the feeling that everything all right, that he could take care of himself, that he don't want help for anything. So that same morning when they finish eating Moses tell him that he would o with him to help him find a work, but Galahad say: 'Don't worry man, I will make out for myself.'"

Galahad goes out and immediately gets lost, but Moses follows him and persuades Galahad to take his advice and get a job, but be sure to find a place to live close to where you work. The patois of the immigrants has an almost musical quality in its simplicity and lack of tense. As the story continues more characters are introduced, in episodic fashion, each with their own idiosyncrasies. Despite their differences, their newness and unfamiliarity with the surroundings they are able to make a home within the larger urban environment provided by the city of London. Near the end of the story they come together for a "fete", a celebration and dance. They are enjoying themselves and for a moment forget about the life they left in the Caribbean, the daily difficulties they face in London, and the loneliness that remains a part of their lives.

"The changing of the seasons, the cold slicing winds, the falling leaves, sunlight on green grass, snow on the land, London particular. Oh what it is and where it is and why it is, no one knows, but to have said: 'I walked on Waterloo Bridge,' 'I rendezvoused at Charing Cross,' "Picadilly Circus is my playground,' to say these things, to have lived these, things, to have lived in the great city of London, centre of the world." ( )
2 rösta jwhenderson | Feb 22, 2016 |
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One grim winter evening, when it had a kind of unrealness about London, with a fog sleeping restlessly over the city and the lights showing in the blur as if is not London at all but some strange place on another planet, Moses Aloetta hop on a number 46 bus at the corner of Chepstow Road and Westbourne Grove to go to Waterloo to meet a fellar who was coming from Trinidad on the boat-train.
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The Longman Caribbean Writers Series comprises of many classic novels, short stories and plays by the best known Caribbean authors, together with works of the highest quality from new writers.

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