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Sir Wilson Harris obituary

Writer and leading figure in postcolonial literature whose work was inspired by Guyana, the place of his birth

Sir Wilson Harris, who has died aged 96, was a towering figure among the writers of the Caribbean and Central America. Concerned with the human condition, in particular with the marginalised, Harris sought a revolution in form as well as approach. The writing style he developed succeeded in conveying what William Blake called “fourfold vision”: grounded in the real world, transformed by metaphor, cultivating empathy, and having a universal perspective.

It was while working as a surveyor in Guyana in the 1950s, discovering the enigmatic silences of remnant Amerindian cultures and the haunting landscapes of the rainforests, that Harris pioneered his individual and expressive voice, first revealed in poems published in Georgetown in the magazine Kyk-Over-Al and later in a privately printed collection, Eternity to Season (1954).

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