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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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Eating their Words

Eating their Words

The Consumption of French Caribbean Literature

(p.48) 3 Eating their Words
Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing

Celia Britton

Liverpool University Press

The economic basis of colonialism is export to the metropolis; in the case of the French Caribbean the exported products, historically, have mainly been types of food. More recently, however, they have included novels; and this chapter argues that these are marketed as food, and that this is internalized in the texts of the novels themselves - not only their typical themes (e.g., ‘fruity’ female sexuality in Depestre's Hadriana dans tous mes rêves) but also the language in which they are written: the reader is invited to ‘eat their words’. The special ‘saveur’ of Creole and creolized French is heavily promoted as a crucial element of the value of these texts as commodities. This chapter uses Bakhtin's ‘objectified discourse’ to analyse this language whose meaning is less important than its exotic ‘taste’, and Althusser's concept of ideological interpellation to outline a historical shift from France's need to control and assimilate its colonial subjects to its desire to consume their difference as a ‘tasty’ exotic commodity.

Keywords:   marketing of literature, cultural consumption, Creole language, René Depestre, Mikhail Bakhtin, Louis Althusser

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