Of Colonial and Postcolonial Storyworlds

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  • Title: Of Colonial and Postcolonial Storyworlds: Reconfiguring the Caribbean and London in Marina Warner’s Indigo
  • Author(s): Gail Fincham
  • Publisher: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Collection: Common Ground Research Networks
  • Series: New Directions in the Humanities
  • Journal Title: The International Journal of Literary Humanities
  • Keywords: Ecology, Narratology, Reader Response
  • Volume: 15
  • Issue: 4
  • Year: 2017
  • ISSN: 2327-7912 (Print)
  • ISSN: 2327-8676 (Online)
  • DOI: https://doi.org/10.18848/2327-7912/CGP/v15i04/9-21
  • Citation: Fincham, Gail. 2017. "Of Colonial and Postcolonial Storyworlds: Reconfiguring the Caribbean and London in Marina Warner’s Indigo." The International Journal of Literary Humanities 15 (4): 9-21. doi:10.18848/2327-7912/CGP/v15i04/9-21.
  • Extent: 13 pages


Defining the term “storyworld” as a “mental model of context and environment within which a narrative’s characters function,” Erin James combines ecology and narratology to coin the term “econarratology.” Marina Warner’s multigeneric novel is strikingly econarratological. It draws on the narrative devices and geographical spaces of the imperial adventure novel, on exploration and cartography, on natural science and herbalism, on geology, the language of ships, on the “first contact” narratives of explorers, on dreams, visions, and fairytales. Set in both the city of London and the islands of the Caribbean, the novel “reconfigures” issues of race, gender, and identity over three centuries, challenging the meaning, purposes, and outcomes of our knowledge-oriented society. Warner’s depiction, in the colonial sections of the novel, of the Caribbean’s flora and fauna in the world of the indigenous “wise woman” Sycorax is ironically counterpointed against the colonisers’ knowledge. This reflects the systematization of natural history in Linnaeus’ nomenclature, which erases indigenous knowledges while erecting a hierarchy of racial “species” and gendered difference. In the postcolonial worlds of London and the Caribbean, the wisdom of Sycorax is continued in the storytelling of Serafine, drawing the reader into a socially and ecologically enlightened worldview.