Writing in Limbo: Modernism and Caribbean Literature

By Simon Gikandi | Go to book overview

4 The Deformation of Modernism: The Allegory of History in Carpentier's El siglo de las luces

The American novelist, whatever the cultural zone he be
longs to, is not at all in search of a lost time, but finds himself
struggling in the confusion of time. And, from Faulkner to
Carpentier, we are faced with apparent snatches of time that
have been sucked into banked up or swirling forces.

-- Edouard Glissant, Caribbean Discourse

There is nothing absolutely primary to interpret because at
bottom all is already interpretation, each sign is in itself not
the thing which offers itself to interpretation, but the inter
pretation of other signs.

-- Michel Foucault, "Nietzsche, Freud, Marx"

The agonizing about selfhood, language, and identity which dominates the texts discussed in the previous pages has deeper roots than the issues of exile and displacement I have chosen to foreground--it originates from a larger Caribbean concern with historiography and the problem of what I have called the narrative of history. As Glissant has observed in his limpid discussion of temporality in the novel of the Americas, New World writers, irrespective of the cultural spaces they occupy, have been compelled to deal with the anxiety of time, the meaning of spatial reality, and the implications of memory as it affects

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