Francophone Literatures: An Introductory Survey

By Belinda Jack | Go to book overview

4
ANTILLES AND FRENCH GUIANA

la littérature? oui. Littérature de sucre et de vanille. Tourisme littéraire [. . .] Allons la vraie poésie est ailleurs. Loin des rimes, des complaintes, des alizés, des perroquets. Bambous nous décrétons la mort de la littérature doudou. Et zut á l'hibiscus, á la frangipane, aux bougainvilliers. La poésie martiniquaise sera cannibale ou ne sera pas!1

Suzanne Césaire's characterization of literary production on Martinique, in an article in Tropiques ( 1941), 'Misére d'une poésie', holds for French writing in the other French territories in the Caribbean. Poetry was the dominant genre and romanticism, Parnassianism, and symbolism had been the literary movements to which West Indian writers had contributed. The poets regarded as models were Baudelaire, Hugo, Verlaine, Leconte de Lisle (born on La Réunion), Théodore de Banville and José-Maria de Heredia (both born in Cuba). Classical forms dominated and the themes were conventional: the description of 'exotic' landscapes, melancholic meditations in the twilight hours, and so on.

In the French territories of Martinique, Guadeloupe, and Guiana (la Guyane), there was little to encourage the idea of a distinct or national literature in countries where the administration, and the policy of cultural assimilation, were very much against such a development. Edouard Glissant describes the general atmosphere as one which 'déclenche la non-créativité, renforcée en l'occurence par la consommation passive des produits culturels extérieurs'.2 The essential problem for West Indian writing in French had been identi

____________________
1
S. Césaire, "'Misére d'une poésie'", Tropiques, 4 (Jan. 1942); reprinted by J.-M. Place ( 2 vols., 1941-2; 1943-5), i. 48.
2
E. Glissant, Le Discours antillais ( 1981), 166.

-103-

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Francophone Literatures: An Introductory Survey
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page *
  • Acknowledgements *
  • Contents *
  • PART I - Europe and North America 23
  • 1 - Belgium 25
  • 2 - Switzerland 41
  • 3 - Quebec and French Canada 57
  • Guide to Further Reading 96
  • PART II - Creole Island 101
  • 4 - Antilles and Frenxh Guiana 103
  • 5 - Haiti 130
  • 6 - Mauritius 144
  • 7 - La Réunion 152
  • Guide to Further Reading 156
  • PART III - North Africa and the Near East 161
  • 8 - Algeria 165
  • 9 - Morocco 185
  • 10 - Tunisia 196
  • 11 - Egypt 207
  • 12 - Lebanon 209
  • Guide to Further Reading 212
  • PART IV - Sub-Saharan Africa and Madagascar 217
  • 13 - Sub-Saharan Africa 219
  • 14 - Madagascar 267
  • Guide to Further Reading 274
  • Conclusion 277
  • Select Bibliography 282
  • Index 283
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