Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean

Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean

Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean

Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean

Excerpt

Et j’ai beau avaler sept gorgées d’eau
trois à quatre fois par vingt-quatre heures
me revient mon enfance
dans un hoquet secouant

Léon-Gontran Damas, ‘Hoquet’, Pigments (1937)

Representations of childhood are anything but simple. Childhood may be, on the one hand, a democratic trope which derives its appeal from the fact that it is a stage common to all humankind, or it may serve to emphasize the intense alienation and isolation of individual experience. Writing about childhood can function as an initiation into an unknown society, the child’s learning curve correlating with that of the reader. Alternatively, it may be an act of consolidation, as readers – particularly those who are familiar with the context being described – identify recognizable experiences. While childhood often evokes nostalgia and celebration of (a lost) innocence, it is just as frequently used in order to cast a critical eye over significant moments of social conditioning or indoctrination, and their consequences.

The literary accounts of childhood examined in this study are strongly aligned with autobiography. Autobiographical forms of writing in Francophone Caribbean literature have, however, long been neglected, occupying an annexed position in both an individual author’s wider output and the critical studies of such works. Autobiography is not a major identifiable genre in Francophone Caribbean literature before the 1990s. Prior to this, the overwhelming majority of authors approached questions of identity formation from the standpoint of collective identity . . .

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.