Aime Cesaire by Gregson Davis

By Gregson Davis

Objective? C?saire is the easiest recognized poet within the French Caribbean. during this examine Gregson Davis examines C?saire's impressive twin profession as author and elected flesh presser. As probably the most profound critics of colonialism, C?saire, the stated inventor of the recognized time period "negritude", has been a highly influential determine in shaping the modern discourse at the postcolonial crisis. Gregson Davis' account of C?saire's highbrow progress is grounded in a cautious studying of the poetry, prose and drama that illustrates the whole variety and intensity of his literary fulfillment.

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Cesaire has remained fiercely loyal to his own verbal marriage of negritude and the surreal, even when it has brought him into open rupture with doctrinaire ideologues of the political left, like the Communist poet Louis Aragon. A graphic representation of his commitment to what he came to see as the liberating function of surrealism (his preferred brand of modernism) may be observed in the stance he took in a public dialogue with the Marxist Haitian poet Rene Depestre. A brief look at some key passages from the poem "The verb 'to maroon 5 " ("Le verbe marronner"), in which a part of that dialogue is immortalized, will function as a coda to this sketch of the bildung of the poet of negritude.

In the following apostrophe the Cesairean voice exhorts the Haitian poet to break ranks and join him in an artistic secession: marronerons-nous Depestre marronerons-nous? ) In inventing a verb, "to maroon" (marronner), based on the noun denoting slaves who escaped from the New World plantation to live in autonomous communities, the speaker hoists aloft the banner of artistic freedom and resistance to cultural totalitarianism. What he especially denounces is the party's advocacy of conventional forms that many modernist poets had rejected as outmoded: C'est vrai ils arrondissent cette saison des sonnets pour nous a le faire cela me rappellerait par trop le jus sucre que bavent la-bas les distilleries des mornes quand les lents boeufs maigres font leur rond au zonzon des moustiques Ouiche!

The nature of this cultural and historical interface cannot be fully recuperated without reference to the visual arts. As we shall have occasion to demonstrate throughout this study, art and literature are closely intertwined in the aesthetic theory and practice of contemporary verbal artists, such as the surrealist poets Andre Breton, Robert Desnos and Benjamin Peret. The anthropologist and cultural historian James Clifford has furnished us with the most insightful description to date of the intellectual collage that made the convergence between surrealist practice (both verbal and visual) and European ethnography both probable and fecund at this epoch.

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