Idealism to Realism- Representing London in Black British Writing: Reading Samuel Selvon’s The Lonely Londoners

  • CF Mgbeadichie
  • IE Asika


Black British Literature is the by product of the struggles and dislocations
witnessed by the black immigrants who invaded Britain in search of greener
pasture and in the pursuit of the Golden Fleece. It comprises of the literature written in English by Caribbean, African and Asian writers emanating from immigrants from colonies formerly colonized by Britain. These writers have something in common which is their disillusionment with Britain, especially London and what it has to offer. Also is their bitter anger and expression of the hardship, brutality, molestation, oppression, self denigration, exploitation and discrimination meted on them by the British as well as their feeling of alienation, cultural dislocation and their struggle for self identity, discovery and survival. This literature captures Britain in its transformational stages and could pass for social documents from which the history of Britain, the society that gave birth to the future which today has become present, could be obtained. Samuel Selvon is one of the Caribbean writers who devoted a greater time of his life writing about the injustices, hardships, inhumanity, discriminations and agonies which characterize the life of an average immigrant in London. The novel under study, The Lonely Londoners echoes with sadness but controlled anger with which Selvon expressed their disappointment with London and its suburbs as a result of discrimination and unjust practices meted on his fellow mulattos. This paper examined how Selvon portrayed the disillusionment that followed the ‘idealised’ London to the ‘real’ London he writes about. On another level, the paper argues that despite the tone of disenchantment and despair that pervade the novel, it ushers in a way of acceptance and adaptation through which these immigrants will make the best out of London and his optimism on the social changes and reformation which he foresees London will undergo to better the lots of all and sundry, a situation that gives hope in the reconstructive and reformative London he presented.

Journal Identifiers

eISSN: 2070-0083
print ISSN: 1994-9057