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Crossing the Line

Early Creole Novels and Anglophone Caribbean Culture in the Age of Emancipation
Candace Ward

BUY Cloth · 240 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813940007 · $65.00 · Aug 2017
BUY Paper · 240 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813940014 · $29.50 · Aug 2017
BUY Ebook · 240 pp. · ISBN 9780813940021 · $65.00 · Aug 2017

Crossing the Line examines a group of early nineteenth-century novels by white creoles, writers whose identities and perspectives were shaped by their experiences in Britain’s Caribbean colonies. Colonial subjects residing in the West Indian colonies "beyond the line," these writers were perceived by their metropolitan contemporaries as far removed—geographically and morally—from Britain and "true" Britons. Routinely portrayed as single-minded in their pursuit of money and irredeemably corrupted by their investment in slavery, white creoles faced a considerable challenge in showing they were driven by more than a desire for power and profit. Crossing the Line explores the integral role early creole novels played in this cultural labor.

The emancipation-era novels that anchor this study of Britain's Caribbean colonies question categories of genre, historiography, politics, class, race, and identity. Revealing the contradictions embedded in the texts’ constructions of the Caribbean "realities" they seek to dramatize, Candace Ward shows how these white creole authors gave birth to characters and enlivened settings and situations in ways that shed light on the many sociopolitical fictions that shaped life in the anglophone Atlantic.


Crossing the Line offers a compelling contribution to literary history by tracing the development of the early novel in the Caribbean, a location previously understood as being primarily focused on the physical machinery of slavery.

Nicole N. Aljoe, Northeastern University, coeditor of The Journey of the Slave Narrative in the Early Americas

Crossing the Line foregrounds an understudied group of writers: white creole novelists in Britain’s Caribbean colonies. White creoles in the Caribbean were characterized as lazy, depraved, and provincial by their contemporaries in Britain, particularly amid early nineteenth-century political and social campaigns to end the institution of slavery in the Caribbean. Ward analyzes novels by white creoles to show the complex ways these writers melded fact and fiction to support the planter class’s ultimately misguided attempts to sustain slavery.

New Books Network

... Crossing the Line: Early Creole Novels and Anglophone Caribbean Culture in the Age of Emancipation takes its name from the carnivalesque rituals performed on ships crossing the Tropic of Cancer or the Equator on their way to the colonies... The book begins with novels written by white members of the slaveholding elite and closes by considering post-Emancipationnovels that pushed back against those earlier fictions, offering new models for Caribbean historiography.

SEL Studies in English Literature 1500-1900

Candace Ward’s sharply focused monograph Crossing the Line: Early Creole Novels and Anglophone Caribbean Culture in the Age of Emancipation analyzes four Caribbean creole novels of the early nineteenth century.... The themes and characters that Ward analyzes would ultimately be subject to scrutiny from an ironic distance by Caribbean novelists. That is in the nature of literary tradition, and Ward is right to look to early creole novels as a point of origin for Caribbean fiction.

SX Salon

About the Author(s): 

Candace Ward, Associate Professor of English at Florida State University, is author of Desire and Disorder: Fever, Fictions, and Feeling in English Georgian Culture.

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