Wilson Harris’s 1960 novel Palace of the Peacock, the first in his Guyana Quartet that center on the history and society of Harris’s, presents a surreal and disorienting account of a doomed voyage up an unnamed jungle river, which culminates in a mystical, visionary experience of the palace of the title, seemingly a metaphysical space beyond death. Understanding the novel’s bizarre qualities requires grasping the way they relate to the development of the motif of voyeurism central to the novel. Specifically, they can be seen as frequently tied to the novel’s use of the image of the voyeur, the voyeur’s appearance to themselves as part of the scene which they are watching, which is employed in the text not only to create its surreal sensibility, but also to comment on the question of political franchise then current in Guyanese society. As the nation moved from British colony to independent state, there was much controversy over who would be allowed to vote in the new country, with many within elite circles holding that franchise should be restricted to the wealthy and well-educated. In its use of the image of the voyeur, Palace of the Peacock critiques these elitist notions by depicting people who were once passive observers of their own lives and desires becoming actively engaged in them, serving as a metaphor for a more egalitarian political future for the country.
Reffett Jr, Delmar.
"“My Dead Seeing Eye”: Fantasy, Franchise, and the Image of the Voyeur in Wilson Harris’s Palace of the Peacock."