Modern Languages

Frères Ennemis – In Conversation with William Cloonan

Frères Ennemis focuses on Franco-American tensions reflected in literature. Each chapter explores the evolution/devolution of the often fraught relations between the two nations, ranging from an initial French fear of American cultural dominance to the eventual realization that France could absorb this cultural invasion into its own traditions. We caught up with author William Cloonan to discuss this recent publication.

9781786941329

Firstly, could you tell us a bit about Frères Ennemis and what drew you to focus your work in this area?

I have always been intrigued by the ways the Americans and French manage to get on one another’s nerves. Loyal allies in every major conflict since the American revolution, each nation seems nevertheless  gifted in creating annoyances for the other. Sometimes the differences are silly and sometimes serious. As I studied this bizarre phenomenon in literary texts I began to understand that the tensions were more political than personal and reflected the struggle of two great powers to achieve and maintain a preeminent position on the world stage.

The cover of your book features a particularly striking display of postwar French tensions. Where does the image come from, and what is its relevance to your book?

André Fougeron painted Atlantic Civilization (1953) to illustrate French leftist concerns about the growing influence and presence of the United States in France and Europe. The topics alluded to in the painting are serious, the German rearmament, racism, the execution of Ethel and Julius Rosenberg for spying, etc., but the figures seems caricatural, as if taken from a comic book. I felt this painting displayed both the serious and silly aspects of Franco-American relations which I wanted to discuss in my study.

In your study you introduce a concept called urban colonization. What do you mean by this expression, and how does it function thematically in Frères Ennemis?

Urban colonization is an expression I coined to describe the way a group of wealthy American expats essentially take over sections of Paris and transform them into an alternate universe which is neither France nor the United States. This is a world where the only French tolerated are either servants or nobles whose primary value is decorative. They enhance the grandeur of the Americans by being at their beck and call. While this tendency is most apparent in The Custom of the Country, it figures in every novel where the American expat community plays a role.

In your chapter on Jean Echenoz, you introduce the subject of the influx of American consumerism in postwar France. How is your treatment of this social phenomenon different from other analyses?

I argue that the disdain on the part of French intellectuals for American products, especially appliances (refrigerators, washing machines, vacuums, etc.) is greatly misplaced. As fond as the French have become of taking polls, it is a pity that grandmothers, daughters, sisters, –women in general—never seemed to have been consulted with regard to their sentiments concerning the influx of American household products. This discussion allows me also to challenge hoary concepts like “the American character,” and “France’s traditional way of life.” I argue these are largely empty phrases whose putative strength comes from their lacking any real substance.

You discuss the thematic importance of the English language in several chapters. Could you develop this idea and show how it plays an important role in several of the novels you discuss?

In my study, language is power. For the French to speak with Americans in both French and American novels, the language has to be English, and the predominant role of English reflects the growing political importance of the Unites States and the failing fortunes of France. The U.S. is the present and the future, while France is the past.

What are you working on next?

In the final chapter of my book, I point to an emerging trend in contemporary French fiction with regard to the United States. Due to a variety of social factors in both countries, among them 9/11, the election of Obama, racism in France and the rise of extreme right wing movements in the two countries, French novelists are developing a renewed curiosity about l’Amérique. Social criticism is still very much alive, but there are many fewer clichés about the States bandied about. I see this change primarily in three areas, the treatment of American movie stars and pop icons, the depiction of everyday life, and finally in the recent spate of parodies of American fiction by younger authors writing in French. This new direction in French literature will be the subject of my next book. Obviously, Trump’s effect on the image of Americans will be a crucial element in this study.

For more information on Frères Ennemis please visit our website.

 

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Modern Languages

Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France – In Conversation with Kathryn A. Kleppinger and Laura Reeck

The most recent addition to the Francophone Postcolonial Studies series Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France is now available! We caught up with editors Kathryn A. Kleppinger and Laura Reeck to discuss their recent publication.

Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France

What prompted the volume?

Given the span of time – twenty years – and important demographic changes in France, our original idea was to provide an update to Alec Hargreaves’s and Mark McKinney’s very important volume, Post-Colonial Cultures in France (1997).  Their volume transposed postcoloniality, which had primarily been used as a critical lens to study France’s former colonies, to metropolitan France and looked specifically at the case of post-colonial minorities for whom France became a contact zone.  But these postcolonial minorities were not necessarily French citizens.  Our volume, for which Hargreaves and McKinney have written the Afterword, focuses on activists, artists, and cultural producers who are French citizens and who have lived in France for all their lives (or virtually so).  Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France explores this proximity with the attendant opportunities and challenges that it brings for people who are too often marginalized or at once highly visible and invisible.  We suggest that the post-migratory is an important conceptual category that stands to help rearticulate and update relationships between the local and global, national and transnational, all the while holding postcoloniality as relevant.  Also, part of our motivation stemmed from our sense that it was time to cross over resolutely to the 21st century and hone in on 21st century cultural production, which is exclusively featured in the volume.  All too often, the most contemporary cultural production gets treated insufficiently in edited volumes.  We wanted to ensure that Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France was timely and spoke to the current social and cultural moment in France, and all the contributors harnessed this perspective.

 

Can you summarise some of the common themes and findings in the diversity of topics covered in the volume?

 Although the volume explores many cultural forms — literature, rap, hip hop dance, visual art, bandes déssinées, film, new media — there is a cohesiveness and consensus that emerges.  Examining such topics as institutions/institutional memory, laïcité, Blackness, and Islamophobia, the volume explores vacuums created by French republicanism and faux colorblindness, and advocates for an adjustment to indifference to social differences.  It seems as though the artistic and cultural forms that best account for this adjustment themselves collapse boundaries and differentials – for example, rapper-writers, or El Seed’s street art as it grows onto institutional walls.  Filling in the void of silence and activating post-memory also recur across the volume, whether in the case of the children of harkis or second-generation Vietnamese French, both cases in which trauma resulting from war and displacement figures prominently.  Another interesting consideration is the level of access to various stages.  The volume suggests there is unequal opportunity and access depending on the stage in question: while the dance, music, and street art stages seem somewhat favorable and open, the literary and mediatic establishments’ gates remain largely shut to post-migratory postcolonial minorities.  Meanwhile, these artists and cultural producers have appropriated their own spaces (whether on Twitter or on the walls of buildings) and are demonstrating that they, too, deserve to be recognized as innovators: they produce works with their own distinctive voices and refuse to relegate their art to the margins of French high culture. By revealing the social and political nature of canonization and consecration in France, they make us more aware of our own expectations and blindspots when we “consume culture.”

 

How do you think this book will pave the way for further research into cultural production in relation to new social identities?

We are excited to contribute to this conversation! Each of the fields of study presented here (media, film, literature, visual arts, dance, etc) merits attention in its own right, so we hope to see new monographs in these areas as well as additional collections that seek to synthesize new material as we have done here. While we chose to focus on how these artists and cultural producers reconsider Frenchness and their place in French society, further research could look at the ways in which contemporary post-migratory producers engage with concepts such as neoliberal economic policies and the future of Europe in a transnational world. Each of these themes requires sensitivity to the relationship between the local and the global and the role of historical events and precedents in the contemporary era, which are tensions we address in our volume. We also think the volume points toward the importance of intersectionality in new social identities in France, an area of research that is key and imminent in our view. We hope our vocabulary, centered around the concept of the post-migratory, provides researchers with a theoretically useful foundation upon which to build future investigations.

For more information on Post-Migratory Cultures in Postcolonial France please visit our website.
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Modern Languages

Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures at 50: Mapping the Field

With the publication of Alison J. Murray Levine’s Vivre Ici: Space, Place and Experience in Contemporary French Documentary, the Liverpool University Press ‘Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures’ series has reached its fiftieth title. Series editor Charles Forsdick looks over the history and accomplishments of the series to mark the occasion. 

All Contemporary French and Francophone titles are 50% off this month. Use code CFFC50 or follow this link.

Since the launch of the collection in 2003, CFFC has included some of the most innovative, original and significant research in twentieth- and twenty-first-century French studies from throughout the English-speaking world. Strengthening the study of cinema in the series (other notable titles include Margaret C. Flinn’s The Social Architecture of French Cinema, 1929–1939), the appearance of Levine’s book is a perfect way to mark this milestone as it exemplifies the aims of the collection: Vivre ici analyses a key cultural trend in recent French culture, in this case the renaissance of contemporary French documentary film; it underlines the importance of space and place, aspects that link a number of titles in the series (most notably Verena Andermatt Conley’s Spatial Ecologies: Urban Sites, State and World-Space in French Cultural Theory); it reveals the cross-disciplinary reach of French studies, engaging with phenomenology, film theory, eco-criticism and cultural history; and perhaps most importantly, it engages with the subject in a way that speaks to a range of readers, not just in French studies and film studies but across a variety of other fields.

The growing success of the series is testament to the commitment of LUP to pioneering publishing initiatives in Modern Languages – including the Open Access platform Modern Languages Open – at a time when a number of other presses have withdrawn from the field or drastically limited their engagement with it. Reaching the fiftieth volume of a series characterized by consistent evidence of the highest quality scholarship is also a clear indication of something else: the continued health of ‘French studies in and for the twenty-first century’ as a buoyant research field, engaging with and on many occasions spearheading new initiatives in the arts and Humanities. CFFC does not stand in isolation: the authors who contribute to it are informed by the wide portfolio of French studies journals published by LUP, most notably Francosphères (whose new vision for the study of the French-speaking world without the divisions of the ‘French’ and the ‘Francophone’ has become an important point of reference), but also the Australian Journal of French Studies and Contemporary French Civilization. The series is also closely associated with the soon to be nine titles of the distinctive Society for Francophone Postcolonial Studies annual yearbook collection. At the same time, CFFC authors are often in dialogue – implicit or explicit – with other elements of the LUP catalogue, such as the series Postcolonialism Across the Disciplines, edited by Graham Huggan and Andrew Thompson, or the new initiative on Transnational Modern Languages.

Fifteen years ago, CFFC grew out of an original LUP series, edited by Ed Smyth, on ‘Modern French Authors’, a collection of monographs – in many case the first devoted to their subject in English – on important contemporary writers, including Akane Kawakami on Patrick ModianoJean-Pierre Boulé on Hervé Guibert and Siobhán McIlvanney on Annie Ernaux, Ed’s vision for the original series underpinned CFFC, where a number of titles – Jane Hiddleston on Assia DjebarMaeve McCusker on Patrick ChamoiseauDouglas Morrey on Michel HouellebecqAndrew Asibong on Marie NDiayeLucy O’Meara on Roland Barthes at the Collège de France, and Pierre-Philippe Fraiture on Valentin Mudimbe – demonstrate the radical diversification of literary and intellectual canonicity in the twenty-first century. CFFC’s titles have often sought, however, to move beyond the focus on individual authors to identify wider shifts in French and Francophone literary and cultural production. Jean Duffy, for instance, in Thresholds of Meaning, focused on the recurrent interest in passage, ritual and liminality in contemporary French narrative, or Larry Schehr, in what proved to be his final book, provided a major study of French postmodern masculinities, ranging – as his subtitle suggests, ‘from neuromatrices to seropositivity’. Visual cultural beyond the cinematic has also played an important role, with Matthew Screech and Mark McKinney both contributing volumes on French comics, the ‘ninth art’, Andy Stafford studying the important but neglected form the photo-essay, and David Scott devoting a volume to the poetics of the poster.

Given the historical emphases in French studies on monolingual and monocultural considerations, the series has actively sought to diversify and destabilize, and often denationalize and decolonize, any understanding of the field’s core object of studyLeslie Kealhofer-Kemp analyses, for instance, Muslim women in French Cinema; Kathryn A. Kleppinger explores what she calls the ‘branding’ of the ‘Beur’ author in minority writing and the media; and Katelyn E. Knox offers a provocative study of the representation of whiteness and blackness in contemporary French culture. This challenging destabilization of assumptions is particularly striking in Jane Hiddleston’s Decolonising the Intellectual, a telling study of politics and culture in the wake of the French Empire that stresses the evolution of notions of humanism in a frame of decolonization.

It is also important to note that through CFFC, Liverpool University Press has become one of the principal English-language publishers on Haitian literature and culture, responding to growing interest in the country following the 2010 earthquake, the subject of Martin Munro’s Writing on the Fault Line. Munro inaugurated a series of important titles in 2012 with his Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature, an influential study of key Haitian authors such as Alexis, Depestre, Ollivier, Laferrière and Danticat, and this book has been followed by other studies including Kaiama Glover’s major book on Spiralism, Haiti Unbound. The interest in Haiti reflects a wider commitment to work on the Francophone Caribbean, and CFFC includes Celia Britton on community in Caribbean writing, Louise Hardwick’s study of childhood and autobiographical writing in the AntillesJason Herbeck’s engagement with the controversial issues of identity and authenticity in the region, and Nick Nesbitt on the contribution of francophone Caribbean thinkers to Critical Theory. Other volumes have contributed to a wider mapping of the literatures and cultures of the Francosphere, and CFFC encompasses Debra Kelly on self and identity in North African writing in French, Raylene Ramsay’s work on Francophone Pacific writing (a volume soon to be complemented by Julia Waters’s study of contemporary Mauritian writing in French), as well as Rosemary Chapman’s searching reflections on the literary history of Francophone writing in Canada, Nicki Hithcott on Rwandan genocide writing and Ruth Bush on the underexplored area of publishing Africa in French. The series also focuses on other transnational connections, highlighting cultural axes within the Francosphere, such as in Edward Welch and Joseph McGonagle’s analysis of the visual economy of France and Algeria in the wake of the War of Independence, or exploring other genealogies that have attracted little attention, such as the role of North American authors in the birth of the Francophone African crime novel, as studied in a book by Pim Higginson. CFFC titles represent a simultaneous mapping and recontouring of some of the most exciting and urgent developments on French studies over the past fifteen years. Several have also proposed new paradigms for exploring the French-speaking world, as is the case with Bill Marshall’s study of the French Atlantic which promotes an approach that is both oceanic and diasporic.

The purview of CFFC is deliberately inclusive and eclectic, and extends to the study of wider socio-cultural phenomena such as cycling, the subject of a book by Hugh Dauncey, or French cultures of consumption, studied by David Walker. The series is additionally committed to revisiting disciplinary intersections, an aspect exemplified by Colin Davis’s recent engagement with ethics and trauma in twentieth-century French writing (an area that Mireille Rosello had already probed in The Reparative in Narratives, a book that argues many French-language authors repair trauma through writing). I note also Bruno Chaouat’s reflection on contemporary thought and anti-Semitism in Is Theory Good for the Jews?, itself intersecting with Lucille Cairns’s earlier book on Francophone Jewish writing. Another welcome development reflected in the series is at the point of intersection with cultural topography, and two highlights have been books by Keith Reader on the Bastille district and Nick Hewitt on Montmartre.

Finally, some recent contributions have pointed to the intellectually urgent work of exploring the limitations of French studies, especially when understood exclusively along national or linguistic lines. Yasser Elhariry’s Pacifist Invasions is exemplary in this regard, with its study of Arabic, translation and that the author calls the ‘postfrancophone lyric’, as is Denis Provencher’s searching study of the lives and stories of queer Maghrebi and Maghrebi French men in the light of the discourses and practices of sexual difference. Others have sought in similar ways to think beyond the Francophone and postcolonial, as it the case with Oana Panaïté in her study of ‘paracolonial aesthetics’ in contemporary French fiction or Aedin Ní Loingsigh’s pioneering volume on Francophone travelogues, Postcolonial Eyes.

The series would not have been possible without the dedication of our authors to sharing research that explores new boundaries – geographical, cultural and conceptual – in French studies. At the same time, we record our thanks to the CFFC advisory board, Tom Conley, Jackie Dutton, Lynn A. Higgins and Mireille Rosello. The inspirational contribution of the late Michael Sheringham, an enthusiastic advocate for the series, is also noted with profound gratitude. With forthcoming titles on places not yet represented in the collection such as French Guiana, on key but underexplored authors such as Joseph Zobel, on major cultural phenomena such as the periodical Lignes, the middlebrow, the performance of listening in postcolonial Francophone culturecross-dressing and gender performance in contemporary francophone Caribbean cultures and more besides, ‘Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures’ continues to grow, encompassing additional geographical areas within the Francosphere, studying developing cultural forms and analysing emerging theories and concepts. We look forward to the next fifty titles.

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Poetry

‘A Handful of Blue Earth’ Marilyn Hacker on her translation of the poems of Vénus Khoury-Ghata

Marilyn Hacker has translated several of the works of Vénus Khoury-Ghata. Here to celebrate her latest translation A Handful of Blue EarthMarilyn discusses the translation process and what inspires her about Vénus Khoury-Ghata. Read on for a poem from A Handful of Blue Earth.

A Handful of Blue Earth

A Handful of Blue Earth is your translation of the poems written by Vénus Khoury-Ghata. When did you first read these poems and what initially drew you to them?

This is the sixth book of Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s that I have translated since 2000. I had read collections of her poetry in French, and been intrigued by how much implied history there was – history in the macro-historical and in the tale-telling sense –informing them. I was asked, back in 2000,  by an editor to give a reader’s report on an anthology of French and Francophone women’s poetry scheduled for publication. There were a couple of poems of Vénus’ that were so full of howlers of mistranslation – which I signalled to the editor – that I was impelled to re-translate them. Some months later, I met Vénus through a mutual writer friend, and knowing her, knowing the person and the personality behind the work, was another impetus to engage with it.

Throughout the collection, there are a range of poetic forms and styles. Is there any particular form that you would say presents a particular challenge as a translator?

There are no actual metrical /rhymed/stanzaic ” fixed poetic forms”  — either coming from the French (or Arabic) literary canon or invented by the poet – in this book, or in any of Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s poetry, though there is a difference between the short-lined verse of the “Lady of Syros” and the more surreal prose-poem-like paragraph-stanzas from the “Book of Petitions” , while the long “Mothers and the Mediterranean” poem partakes of both.   The rhythms and the breath of the short-lined poems are quite different from the marvellously meandering sentences of that border on prose. It’s not hard to keep them apart.

There are not as many formal  – in the sense of metrical/syllabic , etc. forms – virtuosos working currently in French poetry as there are in contemporary poetry in English  — thinking of George Szirtes, Mimi Khalvati, Derek Mahon, Patience Agbabe , for example , though Jacques Roubaud is an exception. I once translated a series of (also surreal ) sequences in decasyllabic dixains  – ten-line stanzas of ten syllables each – by another poet, Marie Etienne, which was surprisingly easy, given how much iambic pentameter I had written myself – and even led me to write something using the same form.

Do you have a particular process when translating poetry? 

No…I often find myself reading a poem in French and “recreating” it in English, and that’s the impulse to translate it. If there’s a book of translations to complete, the process is less meandering than that.

This poetry collection deals with a variety of themes such as exile, warfare and female relationships. Is there any motif in particular that stands out to you as the defining theme of the collection?

Oddly, the only relationship between women I noticed in this collection was that of the daughter who “becomes” the pre-Cycladic statue to her mother. It’s a subject that has been primary in my own work, and an intense ,conflicted mother/ daughter relationship is central to another book of Vénus Khoury-Ghata’s that I translated , Nettles, published by Graywolf Press in the U.S. in 2008.  Exile and expatriation, though, are themes that run through all this poet’s work  – quoting from “The Book of Petitions”:

How can you weep in a language no longer your own

what can you call walls not imbued with your sweat

In both the “Lady of Syros” and “The Book of Petitions,” death itself is seen as a kind of exile or expatriation  – which, paradoxically, makes it seem less final and inexorable: exiles sometimes return.  Whereas the state of war evoked in “The Mothers and the Mediterranean” seems almost more permanent than death – and I think it was the persistent murderous state of war now in Syria, in Iraq, that brought the civil war in Lebanon so urgently back to the poet’s imagination…as well as the city of Beirut, where she grew up, very specifically evoked in that sequence.

Would you say that reading and translating Vénus’ poems has influenced your own poetry? 

I’ve translated extensively from the work of about ten French or Francophone poets in the last going-on-twenty years, and there has been, intentionally or inadvertently, dialogue with several of them in my own work.  Here is a glosa, a Spanish form in which the poet takes 4 lines from a poem by another poet, and composes 4 ten line stanzas, each ending with one of those four lines in turn  — this was written elaborating on four lines of the poem by Vénus Khoury-Ghata that is given in its entirety, following.


GLOSE

 The death of a sparrow has blackened the snow

But  nothing consoled her

Who is the night among all nights ? she asked the owl

But the owl doesn’t think, the owl knows

Vénus Khoury-Ghata : “Borderland”

 

Dumb heat, not snow, sheathes Paris in July

and sheathes suburban Washington.

Planes rip through the fabric of a frayed

afternoon torn open

by words no afterwards will clarify.

Knowing what happened, no one will know.

We had a friend ;  she had a young  son.

There was exile, its weight on a day.

There was the heart’s ice, its insistent glow.

The death of a sparrow has blackened the snow.

 

Trope upon silvered trope, of what might a mirror

remind her : copper, black silk , the eloquence

intelligence gives eyes ?  Reflected terror

that conscripted all intelligence.

I am a great way off and cannot come nearer.

I do not know what the night or the mirror told her

or the sense of the words she wrote when nothing made sense,

or if they made a sense that seemed clearer and clearer.

The child raised his arms to be lifted, to be held, to hold her,

but nothing consoled her.

 

Put the morning away in the murk of myth :

not the unthinkable, but Radha’s dance

breaking her bangles, imploring the dark god with

metered and musical lamentations,

repeated measures meant to distance death

suggest a redemptive spiral for the soul

(child, child bleeding to death, no second chance)

in the containment of despair and wrath

within the peopled descent of the ritual.

 

(Who is the night of all nights she asked the owl.)

 

No dark god was there, and no god of light .

There are women and men, cruel or fallible.

No mild friend picked up the telephone at the right

moment ; some Someone was unavailable.

The morning which paled from an uneventful night

would have been ordinary, except that she chose.

Interrogate the hours, invent some oracle

flying overhead , read fate into its flight.

We think the snow was blackened by dead sparrows,

but the owl doesn’t think; the owl knows.

Vénus Khoury-Ghata

 

From “Nettles”

it should have been beautiful and it was merely sad

gardens departed this life more slowly than men

we would eat our sorrow down to the last drop then

belch it in splinters in the face of the cold

the sun’s spirit kept the sun from warming us

a sun that eventually ran dry        from so much concentration

It was elsewhere

it was a very long time ago

tired of calling us the mother left the earth to enter the earth

seen from above she looked like a pebble

seen from below she looked like a flaking pine-cone

sometimes she wept    in sobs that made the foliage tremble

life, we cried out to her, is a straight line of noises

death an empty circle

outside there is winter

the death of a sparrow has blackened the snow

But     nothing consoled her

who is the night among all nights? she asked the owl

but the owl doesn’t think

the owl knows

Translated by Marilyn Hacker

(from Names, W.W. Norton and Co., 2010)

Marilyn Hacker is the author of thirteen books of poems, including A Stranger’s Mirror (Norton, 2015), Names (Norton, 2010), Essays on Departure (Carcanet, 2006), an essay collection, Unauthorized Voices (Michigan, 2010), and fourteen collections of translations of French and Francophone poets including Emmanuel Moses, Marie Etienne, Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Habib Tengour and Rachida Madani. DiaspoRenga, a collaborative sequence written with the Palestinian-American poet Deema Shehabi, was published by Holland Park Press in 2014. She lives in Paris.

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Modern Languages

Celia Britton – Author Insights

We have our next #FreeReadFriday coming up, so here is our Q&A with Celia Britton ahead of the day. Read on to find out what you can expect from Celia’s book, Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing which will be available to download free for 24 hours on Friday 6th of November!

1)       What prompted you to write this book?

Issues of the language and literary form of postcolonial literature have recently become a prominent area of research, after having been largely neglected. Since much of my work has always been in this area, I felt that the time had come to bring my ideas together and develop them further.

2)       What is the main argument of the book?

The central argument is that attention to the language and formal features of these texts can provide insights into their themes and social context that would otherwise remain inaccessible. But it is interpreted in very varied ways: ‘language’, for example, ranges from analysing Condé’s sentence structures and Maximin’s use of pronouns, to discussing the role of Creole in the identity politics of Chamoiseau and Confiant, and Glissant’s promotion of what I call ‘multilingual surfing’ in the Tout-monde. Equally, the formal features cover both large-scale issues of genre (e.g., primitivism, exoticism, autobiography), and detailed analyses of intertextuality, narrative voice, etc.. In addition to strictly literary texts I also consider quasi-political writings about literature and, in Chapter 3, the commercial marketing of French Caribbean literature.

An important subsidiary argument is that orthodox postcolonial theory alone is not well-equipped to do this kind of study; theorists such as Benveniste, Bakhtin, Kristeva and Barthes, for example, offer ways of analysing the subject’s relation to language that can better illuminate the position of the postcolonial subject.

3)       How does your approach differ from other research in this area?

In my use of poststructuralist and other theories to supplement postcolonial theory in my analysis of texts. But I also show that postcolonial texts reveal some of the limitations of poststructuralist theory, particularly with regard to realism.

4)       You devoted Part II of the book to the work of Edouard Glissant. What sets his work out from the other authors discussed?

Of all the authors I discuss, Glissant is by far the most concerned with questions of language and poetics; he has produced a body of theoretical work on these issues that has no equivalent in other authors of the francophone Caribbean. He has greatly influenced my own thinking on the subject.

 

Read more on Celia’s book here and remember to download for free on the next #FreeReadFriday (6th November 2015)

Celia Britton is Emeritus Professor of French and Francophone Studies at University College London and is co-editor of American Creoles (Liverpool University Press, 2012) and the author of The Sense of Community in French Caribbean Fiction (Liverpool University Press, 2008); Race and the Unconscious: Freudianism in French Caribbean Thought (Legenda, 2002); Edouard Glissant and Postcolonial Theory: Strategies of Language and Resistance (University of Virginia Press, 1999).