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Beyond a Boundary (1963)

by C. L. R. James

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4831351,333 (4.03)14
In C. L. R. James's classic "Beyond a Boundary, " the sport is cricket and the scene is the colonial West Indies. Always eloquent and provocative, James--the "black Plato," (as coined by the London "Times")--shows us how, in the rituals of performance and conflict on the field, we are watching not just prowess but politics and psychology at play. Part memoir of a boyhood in a black colony (by one of the founding fathers of African nationalism), part passionate celebration of an unusual and unexpected game, "Beyond a Boundary" raises, in a warm and witty voice, serious questions about race, class, politics, and the facts of colonial oppression. Originally published in England in 1963 and in the United States twenty years later (Pantheon, 1983), this second American edition brings back into print this prophetic statement on race and sport in society.… (more)
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Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
Sometimes I get a bit worried about how much real estate cricket takes up in my head. At those times, I have often been reassured by the knowledge that the Trinidadian Marxist and historian C. L. R. James was afflicted with the same condition and still managed an intellectual career.

Having actually read the book now, it's clear that there were some kind of spatial contortions going on in James' head that gave him about a hundred times the mental real estate that I'm working with. The man appears to have thought more about cricket than I've thought about everything combined in my entire life. And it's been productive thinking!

We're always hearing that what you see out in the middle is a microcosm of the world, but I've never seen anyone spell this out in such fine detail as James. The book isn't a gimmick where he's challenged himself to draw links between the struggle for West Indian independence, English schoolboy sports etiquette, and the narcissism of small differences. The links essentially draw themselves when you lay out the history in the right way.

My ultimate takeaway from reading this is that it is immensely valuable to be constantly questioning how things are and why things are, and that this process should not be restricted to its traditional targets, but applied to basically everything. ( )
  NickEdkins | May 27, 2023 |
If you want to read a great book about something you aren't interested in (in this case, if you're like me, cricket) you could do a lot worse than this book. Colonialism, racism, sport as art, and sports unheralded place in the changes in 19th century English society are among the topics addressed in this engaging, erudite book.

A good read. ( )
  qwertify | Sep 10, 2021 |
Really enjoying this but my cricket knowledge is non-existent so going to pursue that and then return to this excellent book. ( )
  shaundeane | Sep 13, 2020 |
I was concerned that this book had been oversold by its many admirers, but it is truly excellent. It is neither a mere autobiography nor a history of cricket in the West Indies, though both subjects are discussed at length. Side topics include art criticism, classical civilization and Victorian education. I found most of these digressions fascinating, but if you prefer a straightforward cricket narrative, this book may not be for you. James generally states his arguments in a literate and engaging manner, though his point is sometimes obscured by the meandering course he pursues. The final chapters suffer from their focus on topical issues in 1960s Caribbean cricket that are less clear to modern readers, but in general this is a timeless work that deserves every plaudit. ( )
1 vote Lirmac | Jun 20, 2018 |
Such a good book. Can see why it is such a revered book. A series of essays and reminiscences more than a biography. Want to read more about the story of West Indies cricket. Definitely one to read (and savour) again.. ( )
  cbinstead | Feb 17, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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To Learie Constantine and W.G.Grace for both of whom this book hopes to right grave wrongs, and, in doing so, to extend our too limited conceptions of history and of the fine arts. To these two names I add that of Frank Worrell, who has made ideas and aspirations into reality
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preface: This book is neither cricket reminiscences nor autobiography. It poses the question What do they know of cricket who only cricket know?
main text: Tunapuna at the beginning of the twentieth century was a small town of about 3,000 inhabitants, situated eight miles along the road from Port of Spain, the capital of Trinidad
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In C. L. R. James's classic "Beyond a Boundary, " the sport is cricket and the scene is the colonial West Indies. Always eloquent and provocative, James--the "black Plato," (as coined by the London "Times")--shows us how, in the rituals of performance and conflict on the field, we are watching not just prowess but politics and psychology at play. Part memoir of a boyhood in a black colony (by one of the founding fathers of African nationalism), part passionate celebration of an unusual and unexpected game, "Beyond a Boundary" raises, in a warm and witty voice, serious questions about race, class, politics, and the facts of colonial oppression. Originally published in England in 1963 and in the United States twenty years later (Pantheon, 1983), this second American edition brings back into print this prophetic statement on race and sport in society.

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