New Book: Wide Sargasso Sea at 50

This book revisits Jean Rhys’s ground-breaking 1966 novel to explore its cultural and artistic influence in the areas of not only literature and literary criticism, but fashion design, visual art, and the theatre as well. Building on symposia that were held in London and New York in 2016 in honour of the novel’s half-century, this collection demonstrates just how timely Rhys’s insights into colonial history, sexual relations, and aesthetics continue to be.  The chapters include an extensive interview with novelist Caryl Phillips, who in 2018 published a novel about Rhys’s life, an account of how Wide Sargasso Sea can be read through the lens of the #MeToo Movement, a clothing line inspired by the novel, and new critical directions. As both a celebration and scholarly evaluation, the collection shows how enduring Rhys’s novel is in its continuing literary influence and social commentary. 


Elaine Savory is Associate Professor of Literary Studies at The New School in New York, USA. She is the author of Jean Rhys (1999) and The Cambridge Introduction to Jean Rhys (2009), and co-editor of Out of the Kumbla: Caribbean Women and Literature (1990). A poet and literary critic, she has published extensively on Caribbean and African literature and is deeply involved in the fields of ecocriticism and environmental studies. She is also currently working on a memoir.

Erica L. Johnson is Professor and Chair of English at Pace University in New York, USA. She is the author of Cultural Memory, Memorials, and Reparative Writing (2018), Caribbean Ghostwriting(2009), and Home, Maison, Casa (2003). She is also the co-editor of Memory as Colonial Capital (2017), Jean Rhys: Twenty-First-Century Approaches (2015), and The Female Face of Shame (2013).

Table of contents 

Elaine Savory
Introduction to Wide Sargasso Sea at 50

Elaine Savory, Interview with Caryl Phillips

Savory, Elaine, Interview with Chrisila Maida

Roccanova, Alexa, Infamous Daughters: A Capsule Collection Inspired by Wide Sargasso Sea

Sophie Oliver, Wide Sargasso Sea Then and Now: Reading Jean Rhys à la mode

Diana Quick, After Mrs Rochester: On Portraying Jean Rhys Onstage

Elaine Savory, Interview with James Thackara

Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert, Who Writes for the Trees?: Wide Sargasso Sea, the Dominican Forest, and Its Parrots

Sue Thomas, Jean Rhys Getting the “Feel” of the West Indies in Wide Sargasso Sea

Marry Lou Emery, “Broken Parts”: Wide Sargasso Sea and the Poetics of Caribbean Modernism

Carine Mardorossian, Metoo in Wide Sargasso Sea

Elaine Savory, The Lineaments of Life and Death: Desire, Sexuality and Manhood in Wide Sargasso Sea

Katy Cook, Vulnerability and Authenticity: The Wisdom of Wide Sargasso Sea

Mirmohamadi, Kylie, “I so wanted to hand Emma a copy of Wide Sargasso Sea”: Wide Sargasso Sea and Contemporary Re-workings of Jane Eyre

Patricia Moran and Erica Johnson, Encryption as Transmission: The Secret Gardens of Wide Sargasso Sea

Ania Spyra, Burning Down Her Master’s House (Again): Marlon James Responds to Jean Rhys

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