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Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing$
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Celia Britton

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781781380369

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781380369.001.0001

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date: 23 October 2017

Problems of Cultural Self-Representation

Problems of Cultural Self-Representation

René Ménil, Patrick Chamoiseau and Raphaël Confiant

Chapter:
(p.27) 2 Problems of Cultural Self-Representation
Source:
Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing
Author(s):

Celia Britton

Publisher:
Liverpool University Press
DOI:10.5949/liverpool/9781781380369.003.0003

In 1959 Ménil defined the phenomenon of Martinican writers who see their own culture through European eyes, producing an exotic representation of themselves. He sees it as an inevitable consequence of colonialism, which affects even those writers who struggle against it: not a conscious choice of genre but a social-psychological perversion (‘auto-exoticism’). Is it therefore possible to identify its literary characteristics? Thirty years later, the créolité movement's Eloge de la créolité starts from a position identical to Ménil’s, but develops very differently (through its promotion of folklore and the Creole language), and, Britton argues, itself falls into the trap of auto-exoticism: not, however, by writing as the Other, but for the Other: a commodification of authenticity or ‘marketing the margins’, in Graham Huggan's phrase. This chapter goes on to analyse two novels, Chamoiseau's Solibo magnifique and Confiant's Le Nègre et l’amiral, to determine how far they fall into the same trap.

Keywords:   René Ménil, Patrick Chamoiseau, Raphaël Confiant, créolité, Graham Huggan, exoticism, alienation

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