Islands and Exiles: The Creole Identities of Post/Colonial Literature


A comprehensive historical and theoretical study of the "creolization" process and its relevance to both colonial and postcolonial literatures, this book focuses for the most part on novels from or about the French Caribbean.

It examines the ways in which colonial authors such as Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and Victor Hugo, as well as such contemporary writers as Edouard Glissant and Daniel Maximin, have represented the process of cultural mixing and (con)fusion to which, under a variety of names (creolization, hybridity, metissage), postcolonial theorists have increasingly turned in order to understand the complexities of cultural identity in today's transnational world. Notwithstanding the obvious differences separating colonial and postcolonial literatures, Islands and Exiles emphasizes their entanglements, mapping out a middle ground in which they are ambivalently linked to one another.

An introductory section shows how colonial and postcolonial literatures are joined in a relation of epistemic complicity that the author designates with the word "post/colonial". That relation is exemplified by the intertextual links binding together Daniel Defoe's colonial classic Robinson Crusoe and J. M. Coetzee's postcolonial rewriting of it, Foe.

Subsequent chapters include an analysis of the central text of Enlightenment exoticism, Bernardin's Paul et Virginie; overviews of Glissant's novels as well as his theoretical discussions of creolization; an examination of fictional representations of the Haitian revolution (such as Hugo's Bug-Jargal and William Faulkner's Absalom, Absalom!); and an extended consideration of nineteenth-century Martiniquan literature and politics.

The bookconcludes with a reading of New Zealander Keri Hulmes's the bone people, in which the author summarizes his core argument: namely, that in discussions of cultural identity, we need to maintain a fine balance between promoting the hy