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Locating Guyane$
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Sarah Wood and Catriona MacLeod

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781786941114

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: May 2019

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781786941114.001.0001

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Kor and Karnival, the Carnal Road of Léon-Gontran Damas ‘Evidence of Things Not Seen’

Kor and Karnival, the Carnal Road of Léon-Gontran Damas ‘Evidence of Things Not Seen’

(p.48) Chapter Three Kor and Karnival, the Carnal Road of Léon-Gontran Damas ‘Evidence of Things Not Seen’
Locating Guyane

Kathleen Gyssels

Liverpool University Press

While generally forgotten or sidelined in major publications on the movement known as Négritude, Léon-Gontran Damas was quoted to striking effect by the politician Christiane Taubira — herself also from Guyane — in the debate surrounding ‘gay marriage’ in France in February 2013. All of a sudden, the cofounder of the Négritude movement came out of the shadow of Senghor and Césaire and into the heart of French political discourse. This chapter offers literary context for this re-situation of Damas, arguing that his poetry is situated at the crossroad of modernism, anti-colonialism and queer writing. The chapter begins with a perspective on Christine Taubira and the rhetoric she has used in the French National Assembly. It then focuses on Damas himself. As research on Damas expands in the wake of his centenary in 2012, this study first discusses the paradoxes and problems of conducting scholarly work on this poet, as those holding the keys to his sources and his reputation tend increasingly to withdraw from participation in research. Secondly, it gives considers aspects of the biography of Damas as it is known and as it might be interpreted. Finally and most significantly, it turns to a literary critique of his poetry.

Keywords:   poetry, sexuality, Léon-Gontran Damas, Christiane Taubira, anti-colonialism, Négritude

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