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32 - The Caribbean Novel in French, 1958–2016

from Part V - Fictions of the Fifth Republic: From de Gaulle to the Internet Age

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 February 2021

Adam Watt
University of Exeter
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Between 1958 and 2016, the French Caribbean novel is resoundingly about the French Caribbean, less invested in dislocation and displacement—a number of novels of the 1960s and 1970s do focus on the alienation of exiled female protagonists in Africa and France—than in grounding, naming, reclaiming, bringing home. This foregrounding of the local acquired particular political urgency in the wake of departmentalisation (1946), which sparked a process of decreolisation that was accelerated through the French education system and media in subsequent decades. The urge to explore and validate home ground, and to preserve and celebrate Creole memory, becomes more explicit from the late 1980s, and reaches its fullest articulation in the Eloge de la créolité (1989). Despite accusations of nostalgia, even very contemporary novels look to the past, often celebrating a waning Creole culture. That such novels are usually set after Abolition (1848), and that so few novels place slavery front and centre of the narrative, does not, however, mean that the story of slavery is ignored, marginalised or irrelevant. The discontinuity between the overwhelming extra-literary presence of slavery (in interviews with novelists, and in their cultural/media work), and its relative diegetic absence, is more apparent than real: almost all Antillean fiction is haunted by this absent-presence, and can only be fully understood through it.

Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2021

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Further Reading

Britton, Celia, Édouard Glissant and Postcolonial Theory: Strategies of Language and Resistance (Charlottesville: University Press of Virginia, 1999)Google Scholar
Britton, Celia, Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2014)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Britton, Celia, Perspectives on Culture and Politics in the French Antilles (Oxford: Legenda, 2018)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Burton, Richard D. E., Le Roman marron: études sur la littérature martiniquaise contemporaine (Paris: L’Harmattan, 1997)Google Scholar
Chancé, Dominique, L’Auteur en souffrance: essai sur la position et la représentation de l’auteur dans le roman antillais contemporain (1981–1992) (Paris: Presses Universitaires de France, 2000)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Condé, Maryse and Cottenet-Hage, Madeleine (eds.), Penser la créolité (Paris: Karthala, 1995)Google Scholar
Dash, J. Michael, Édouard Glissant (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1995)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Gallagher, Mary, Soundings in French Caribbean Writing Since 1950: The Shock of Space and Time (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002)Google Scholar
Gallagher, Mary (ed.), Ici-là: Place and Displacement in Caribbean Writing in French (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2003)Google Scholar
Haigh, Sam (ed.), An Introduction to Francophone Caribbean Writing: Guadeloupe and Martinique (Oxford: Berg, 1999)Google Scholar
McCusker, Maeve, Patrick Chamoiseau: Recovering Memory (Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2007)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Milne, Lorna, Patrick Chamoiseau: espaces d’une écriture antillaise (Amsterdam and New York: Rodopi, 2006)Google Scholar
Moudileno, Lydie, L’Écrivain antillais au miroir de sa littérature (Paris: Karthala, 1997)CrossRefGoogle Scholar
Murdoch, H. Adlai, Creole Identity in the French Caribbean Novel (Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 2001)Google Scholar
Ormerod, Beverley, An Introduction to the French Caribbean Novel (London: Heinemann, 1985)Google Scholar

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