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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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Discours and Histoire, Magical and Political Discourse in Le Quatrième Siècle

Discours and Histoire, Magical and Political Discourse in Le Quatrième Siècle

(p.103) 7 Discours and Histoire, Magical and Political Discourse in Le Quatrième Siècle
Language and Literary Form in French Caribbean Writing

Celia Britton

Liverpool University Press

In Glissant's Le Quatrième Siècle a historical narrative about the Longoué and Béluse families is framed by a series of conversations between Papa Longoué and Mathieu Béluse. This juxtaposition of past and present enables the novel to investigate the very possibility of recovering the past; but the investigation also depends upon the interplay of the two types of discourse defined by Benveniste as discours and histoire, i.e., intersubjective language use versus impersonal, omniscient narration. As the novel proceeds, both oppositions are questioned: the past is revealed as still existing in the present, and it becomes difficult to distinguish between histoire and discours. In other words, omniscient, objective reconstruction of history is impossible, but equally, the past is important only in so far as it determines the present – which it does in two ways: by providing a basis for political action in the present, and through Papa Longoué's magical discourse which performatively brings the past into being.

Keywords:   Le Quatrième Siècle, Emile Benveniste, discours, histoire, discursive structure

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