The Journey to the Source of Imagination: A Reading of ‘The Laughter of the Wapishanas’ by Wilson Harris.

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This paper proposes a reading of the narrative ‘The Laughter of Wapishana’ by the Guyanese novelist Wilson Harris (The Age of the Rainmakers, 1971). The prose, highly poetic, narrates the dream-journey of a young girl named Wapishana to the source of laughter, escaping from the plague of drought. It leads the girl inside Amerindian cosmologies and uses key philosophical concepts as pathways that, in the end, make her rediscover herself and her people. The interweaving of different logics and oppositions - e.g. Western and Amerindian, drought and flood - are tensions embodied in the narrative that challenge Wapishana, but also allow a recreation of her world, by entering the very cosmogonic moment which formed spaces and peoples.
Creativity, as mentioned by the author in the introductory note, has a ‘political scale’, even more so for Amerindian peoples, whose territories are threatened by economic pressures. The girl, Wapishana, overcomes religious and commercial Western discourses in the antipode locus of creation, reflecting about human existence and also about Guyanese cultural diversity, in the backdrop of colonial processes.

Bibliographical metadata

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRe-imagining the Guyanas
EditorsLawrence Aje, Thomas Lacroix, Judith Misrahi-Barak
PublisherPresses universitaires de la Méditerranée
ChapterWriting and Imagining the 3 Guyanas
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-36781-291-5
Publication statusPublished - 2019

Publication series

PublisherPresses universitaires de la Méditerranée