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Palace of the Peacock by Wilson Harris


Palace of the Peacock by Wilson Harris

Palace of the Peacock, the first of Wilson Harris's many novels, was published in 1960, just one year after his arrival in Britain from Guyana. In a richly metaphorical style, the book sets out the themes Wilson continues to develop in his writing to this day: the ability of the imaginative consciousness to create worlds where disparate cultures and traditions are fused. Donne, an ambitious skipper, leads a multiracial crew up an unnamed river in the rainforest. He is searching for the indigenous people of the forest to exploit as cheap labour on his plantation. But the journey is beset with obstacles, and as the crew progress and their relationships develop, it takes on a more spiritual significance, culminating with the crew and the forest folk finding sanctuary and resolution in the visionary Palace of the Peacock.

About the Author

Wilson Harris was born in 1921 in the former colony of British Guiana. He was a land surveyor before leaving for England in 1959 to become a full-time writer. His exploration of the dense forests, rivers and vast savannahs of the Guyanese hinterland features prominently in the settings of his fiction. Harris's novels are complex, alluding to diverse mythologies from different cultures, and eschew conventional narration in favour of shifting interwoven voices. His first novel Palace of the Peacock (1960) became the first of The Guyana Quartet, which includes The Far Journey of Oudin (1961), The Whole Armour (1962) and The Secret Ladder (1963). He later wrote The Carnival Trilogy (Carnival (1985), The Infinite Rehearsal (1987) and The Four Banks of the River of Space (1990)). His most recent novels are Jonestown (1996), which tells of the mass-suicide of a thousand followers of cult leader Jim Jones; The Dark Jester (2001), his latest semi-autobiographical novel, The Mask of the Beggar (2003), and one of his most accessible novels in decades, The Ghost of Memory (2006). Wilson Harris also writes non-fiction and critical essays and has been awarded honorary doctorates by several universities, including the University of the West Indies (1984) and the University of Liege (2001). He has twice been winner of the Guyana Prize for Literature.

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Book Info

Publication date

18th March 2010


Wilson Harris

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Faber & Faber


138 pages


Classic fiction (pre c 1945)



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