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The Original 1939 Notebook of a Return to the Native Land: Bilingual Edition (Wesleyan Poetry Series)

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Aime Cesaire's masterpiece, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, is a work of immense cultural significance and beauty. This long poem was the beginning of Cesaire's quest for negritude, and it became an anthem of Blacks around the world. Commentary on Cesaire's work has often focused on its Cold War and anticolonialist rhetoric--material that Cesaire only added in 195 Aime Cesaire's masterpiece, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, is a work of immense cultural significance and beauty. This long poem was the beginning of Cesaire's quest for negritude, and it became an anthem of Blacks around the world. Commentary on Cesaire's work has often focused on its Cold War and anticolonialist rhetoric--material that Cesaire only added in 1956. The original 1939 version of the poem, given here in French, and in its first English translation, reveals a work that is both spiritual and cultural in structure, tone, and thrust. This Wesleyan edition includes the original illustrations by Wifredo Lam, and an introduction, notes, and chronology by A. James Arnold.


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Aime Cesaire's masterpiece, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, is a work of immense cultural significance and beauty. This long poem was the beginning of Cesaire's quest for negritude, and it became an anthem of Blacks around the world. Commentary on Cesaire's work has often focused on its Cold War and anticolonialist rhetoric--material that Cesaire only added in 195 Aime Cesaire's masterpiece, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, is a work of immense cultural significance and beauty. This long poem was the beginning of Cesaire's quest for negritude, and it became an anthem of Blacks around the world. Commentary on Cesaire's work has often focused on its Cold War and anticolonialist rhetoric--material that Cesaire only added in 1956. The original 1939 version of the poem, given here in French, and in its first English translation, reveals a work that is both spiritual and cultural in structure, tone, and thrust. This Wesleyan edition includes the original illustrations by Wifredo Lam, and an introduction, notes, and chronology by A. James Arnold.

30 review for The Original 1939 Notebook of a Return to the Native Land: Bilingual Edition (Wesleyan Poetry Series)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Rowena

    "Vainly in the tepidity of your throat you ripen for the twentieth time the same indigent solace that we are mumblers of words. Words? while we handle quarters of earth, while we wed delirious continents, while we force steaming gates, words, ah yes, words! but words of fresh blood, words that are tidal waves and erysipelas and malarias and lava and brush fires, and blazes of flesh, and blazes of cities . . ." It might be odd for me to say that I enjoyed this poem. It definitely wasn't cheery and i "Vainly in the tepidity of your throat you ripen for the twentieth time the same indigent solace that we are mumblers of words. Words? while we handle quarters of earth, while we wed delirious continents, while we force steaming gates, words, ah yes, words! but words of fresh blood, words that are tidal waves and erysipelas and malarias and lava and brush fires, and blazes of flesh, and blazes of cities . . ." It might be odd for me to say that I enjoyed this poem. It definitely wasn't cheery and it dealt with tough subject matter. However, there was so much power and imagery in Cesaire's words it was kind of hard not to be impressed by his use of metaphor and rhythm, especially in a subject that is close to my heart: colonialism. The poem is many things; for one, it's an angry attack on colonialism and slavery after Cesaire returned to Martinique after living in France. It also issues a wake-up call to people affected by colonialism not to accept their lot in life. Elements of the negritude movement are very evident as well. Black identity and racism are also explored.Very emotional and heartfelt. In a way, I understand how Cesaire felt. Returning to one's native land after spending years abroad, it is only natural to wonder about the apathy of the locals, especially with the new knowledge and experiences one has gained abroad. This can lead to frustration, as this poem shows. “And if all I know how to do is speak, it is for you that I shall speak.My lips shall speak for miseries that have no mouth, my voice shall be the liberty of those who languish in the dungeon of despair… And above all my body as well as my soul, beware of folding your arms in the sterile attitude of spectator, for life is not a spectacle, for a sea of pain is not a proscenium.”

  2. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Notebook, which Andre Benton calls "the greatest lyrical monument," was written in Paris, when Césaire was about to return to Martinique. Brevity is what first made me pick this book from my shelf. As I recover from major surgery with only a few hours of clarity a day, it seemed like the perfect, weightless book to hoist and read. Affecting it definitely is, the repetition, the word choice, the movement, force and must I add, style: "like a sob gagged on the verge of bloodthirsty burst." At t Notebook, which Andre Benton calls "the greatest lyrical monument," was written in Paris, when Césaire was about to return to Martinique. Brevity is what first made me pick this book from my shelf. As I recover from major surgery with only a few hours of clarity a day, it seemed like the perfect, weightless book to hoist and read. Affecting it definitely is, the repetition, the word choice, the movement, force and must I add, style: "like a sob gagged on the verge of bloodthirsty burst." At the end of daybreak, the morne crouching before bulimia on the outlook for tuns and mills, slowly vomiting out its human fatigue, the morne solitary and its shed blood, the morne bandaged in shade, the morne and its ditches of fear, the morne and its great hands of wind. I'm reading Sontag's Against Interpretation and Other Essays in bits and pieces and I'm sure this essay collection helps with perspective, maybe even deepens my interpretation and appreciation of Césaire's spellbinding piece of art. "In spite of the amount of reflective prose poetry in it, it is more of an extended lyric or serial work than a narrative poem," the commentary notes. Whatever it is, one dares not define the complexity in its flow, the feel of its words which transcends the period in which it was written, transcends the anguish to showcase a singular piece of art that binds the reader.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Edita

    At the end of the small hours: the strand of dreams and the senseless awakening on this frail stratum of earth already humiliated by the greatness of its future when the volcanoes will erupt and naked waters sweep away the stains ripened by the sun till nothing is left but a tepid molten simmering pried over by sea birds. * At the end of the small hours: Life flat on its face, miscarried dreams and nowhere to put them, the river of life listless in its hopeless bed, not rising or falling, unsure of i At the end of the small hours: the strand of dreams and the senseless awakening on this frail stratum of earth already humiliated by the greatness of its future when the volcanoes will erupt and naked waters sweep away the stains ripened by the sun till nothing is left but a tepid molten simmering pried over by sea birds. * At the end of the small hours: Life flat on its face, miscarried dreams and nowhere to put them, the river of life listless in its hopeless bed, not rising or falling, unsure of its flow, lamentably empty, the heavy impartial shadow of boredom creeping over the quality of all things, the air stagnant, unbroken by the brightness of a single bird.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Clif Hostetler

    This is a book-length poem, first published in French in 1939, that addresses the cultural identity of people of African ancestry living in the French colonial setting of Martinique. The author, Aimé Césaire, was a native of that island which is located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The poem clearly communicates angst for people with a history of racial repression under colonial overlords. However, I am so far removed from the world he is describing that This is a book-length poem, first published in French in 1939, that addresses the cultural identity of people of African ancestry living in the French colonial setting of Martinique. The author, Aimé Césaire, was a native of that island which is located in the Lesser Antilles of the West Indies in the eastern Caribbean Sea. The poem clearly communicates angst for people with a history of racial repression under colonial overlords. However, I am so far removed from the world he is describing that I found it difficult to comprehend its message. Thus I listened to the classroom lecture on YouTube at THIS LINK as an aide to comprehension. In the following comments I am quoting scattered segments from the English translation of the poem. It will give you a feel for the surreal nature of its imagery and also how difficult it is to understand what's being said. They can also give a feel for how the tone of the poem transitions from powerlessness and discouragement toward a more positive and optimistic outlook on life toward the end. An oft repeated phrase "At the brink of dawn" leads the reader to believe that perhaps something new is about to happen, but most of the poem describes never changing poverty and squaller. My dignity wallows in puke. He uses the n-word freely and goes on the say negative things about the people.I will admit that for as long as I can remember we have always been quite pathetic dishwashers, shoeshiners with no ambition, looking on the bright side, rather conscientious witchdoctors, and the only undeniable record we ever broke was at endurance under the whip…He uses the term "negritude" which I understand to be a defiant attitude pushing against colonial norms.my negritude is not an opaque spot of dead water over the dead eye of the earth  my negritude is neither a tower nor a cathedral  it reaches deep down into the red flesh of the soil  it reaches deep into the blazing flesh of the sky  its pierces opaque prostration with its straight patience.  Then he seems to be gathering strength to make a declaration of some sort. Make of me representative of its blood  make of me trustee of its rancour  make of me a man of termination  make of me a man of initiation  make of me a man of meditation  but also make of me a man of insemination  make of me the executioner of these capital deeds  now is the time to gird my loins like a valiant man –  The poem's author is introspective about whether he's qualified to say all that he has to say.Well, am I humble enough? Have I enough callouses on my knees? Enough muscle on my loins?  To crawl in the mud. To brace oneself in the  grease of the mud. To bear.  Soil of mud. Horizon of mud. Sky of mud.  Corpses of mud, oh names to warm up in the palm of a feverish breath! The author finds freedom in the concept of "negridom."Negridom with its smell of fried onion rediscovers  the sour taste of freedom in its spilt blood    Negridom is standing    sitting-down negridom  unforeseenly standing  standing in the hold  standing in the cabins  standing on deck  standing in the wind  standing under the sun  standing in the blood         standing             and                free  standing and not like a poor madwoman in its maritime freedom and poverty veering in its perfect drift and here it is: more unforeseenly standing  standing in the rigging  standing at the helm  standing at the compass  standing at the map  standing under the stars           standing            and                free The poem concludes with the following final words.rise  rise  I follow you, imprinted on my ancestral white cornea  rise sky-licker  and the great black hole where I wanted to drown a moon ago  this is where I now want to fish the night’s malevolent tongue in its immobile revolution! 

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jenny

    At the end of the small hours: Life flat on its face, miscarried dreams and nowhere to put them, the river of life listless in its hopeless bed, not rising or falling, unsure of its flow, lamentably empty, the heavy impartial shadow of boredom creeping over the quality of all things, the air stagnant, unbroken by the brightness of a single bird. When Aimé Fernand David Césaire came to study in Paris at the age of 19, he's said to have fled from the colonial misery and narrowness-mindedness of Marti At the end of the small hours: Life flat on its face, miscarried dreams and nowhere to put them, the river of life listless in its hopeless bed, not rising or falling, unsure of its flow, lamentably empty, the heavy impartial shadow of boredom creeping over the quality of all things, the air stagnant, unbroken by the brightness of a single bird. When Aimé Fernand David Césaire came to study in Paris at the age of 19, he's said to have fled from the colonial misery and narrowness-mindedness of Martinique into the vastness of a world that did not seem less oppressive to him at first. But it was the distance to his 'native land' that allowed him to get closer to his roots apparently. Together with fellow poets Léopold Sedhar Senghor and Léon Damas he founded the student magazine L’Étudiant Noir (The Black Student) in which Césaire first coined the term nègritude. A term which turned into a synonym for the celebration of shared black identity and self-confidence as a counter to French colonialist racism and a legacy of consequential self-hatred. my negritude is not a stone, nor deafness flung out against the clamor of the day my negritude is not a speck of dead water on the dead eye of the earth my negritude is neither tower nor cathedral it plunges into the red flesh of the soil it plunges into the blazing flesh of the sky my negritude riddles with holes the dense affliction of its worthy patience In 1939, a avant-garde magazine first published a poem that wrote literary history. Return to my Native Land (Cahier d'un retour au pays natal) by Aimé Césaire is autobiographical poem, essay and a poetic manifesto deeply influenced by surrealism. I don't think I've ever quite read anything alike. It is an angry attack on colonialism, a comment on identity shaped through the experience of slavery and oppression yet at times it is also playfully gentle and stunningly beautiful in the way it evokes a landscape - inner and outer, the way it plays with language and let's the words be driven forward by a hypnotic rhythm that at times has the strength of a tidal wave. To quote Sartre: “A Césaire poem explodes and whirls about itself like a rocket, suns burst forth whirling and exploding like new suns—it perpetually surpasses itself.” Very true. I want to rediscover the secret of great speech and of great burning. I want to say storm. I want to say river. I want to say tornado. I want to say leaf, I want to say tree. I want to be soaked by every rainfall, moistened by every dew. As frenetic blood rolls on the slow current of the eye, I want to roll words like maddened horses like new children like clotted milk like curfew like traces of a temple like precious stones buried deep enough to daunt all miners. The man who couldn’t understand me couldn’t understand the roaring of a tiger. It's is easy to get lost in those sentences because one ends up marvelling at the words, the surreal, lustrous and lush language and the idiosyncratic terminology that Césaire employs. The poem brims with a wondrous catalogue of geographical, zoological, biological terms like noctiluca, coccinella, syzygy, uvula and holothurian to just name a few, which must have been a challenge for any translator I believe. John Berger and Anne Bostock, both language artists who translated this beautifully often decided to replace those terms with more familiar, less alienating synonyms, if available. It certainly helps making the text more approachable. I wonder whether by doing so, they've risked for those passages to loose some of their strange appeal and their (deliberate?) alienating nature. But this is a minor question mark. What remains is a sense of having discovered a poetic treasure, and the certainty to be picking this up time and time again. With many thanks to Netgalley and Archipelago for the ARC.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jonathan

    And neither the teacher in his classroom, nor the priest at catechism will be able to get a word out of this sleepy little picaninny, no matter how energetically they drum on his shorn skull, for starvation has quicksanded his voice into the swamp of hunger (a word-one-single-word and we-will-forget-about-Queen-Blanche-of-Castille, a word-one-single-word, you-should see-this-little-savage-who-doesn't-know-any-of-God's-Ten-Commandments), for his voice gets lost in the swamp of hunger, and there i And neither the teacher in his classroom, nor the priest at catechism will be able to get a word out of this sleepy little picaninny, no matter how energetically they drum on his shorn skull, for starvation has quicksanded his voice into the swamp of hunger (a word-one-single-word and we-will-forget-about-Queen-Blanche-of-Castille, a word-one-single-word, you-should see-this-little-savage-who-doesn't-know-any-of-God's-Ten-Commandments), for his voice gets lost in the swamp of hunger, and there is nothing, really nothing to squeeze out of this little brat, other than a hunger that can no longer climb to the rigging of his voice, a sluggish flabby hunger, a hunger buried in the depths of the Hunger of this famished morne. I would certainly suggest anyone interested in this get the bilingual edition, even in your french is as bad as mine... An important-and-still-powerful yell of anger and love and frustration and sorrow

  7. 4 out of 5

    leynes

    Notebook of a Return to My Native Land was hard to rate. I would rate the poem itself 3 stars but since this particular edition had a brilliant and extensive introduction that I highly appreciated and from which I took so much, I had to rate it 4 stars. Mireille Rosello did a fantastic job at putting Césaire's work into its historical context and showcasing its relevance. Her analysis added much to my comprehension of the text. Rosello took upon a very hard task: How does one commemorate the spir Notebook of a Return to My Native Land was hard to rate. I would rate the poem itself 3 stars but since this particular edition had a brilliant and extensive introduction that I highly appreciated and from which I took so much, I had to rate it 4 stars. Mireille Rosello did a fantastic job at putting Césaire's work into its historical context and showcasing its relevance. Her analysis added much to my comprehension of the text. Rosello took upon a very hard task: How does one commemorate the spirit of resistance of a poem that may no longer be representative of what Martinicans want today? When we read the Notebook we need not remember it nostalgically as the birth of Carribean literature, a founding moment that no criticism should ever tarnish, nor do we have to forget it altogether on the grounds that the debate has shifted. Rosello did a fantastic job at balancing her analysis – her words of praise were just as fair and founded as her harsh criticism. Aimé Césaire's story is not only the story of his poetic and political work. It is the story of a colour and of an island. Perhaps Césaire's most significant achievement has been the successful reappropriation of the word 'nègre'. To Carribean authors, the word now has a different tonality because it is now associated with 'Négritude', which is part and parcel of their historical cultural heritage even if a second generation of thinkers has rejected some of its universalising and essentialist implications. Césaire's generation set out about redefining the goals and the standards of a literature written by Black writers about Black people. Until the 19th century, Carribean voices were predominantly white and racist and when the first Black and mixed writers appeared, they were often imitators who hoped that their skin colour would be forgotten if they wrote like French people. Césaire was, paradoxically, eager to leave Martinique when he went to Paris for the first time. His departure was not caused by unemployment or poverty but rather by the recognition granted to him by the metropolitan French educational system: having received a scholarship. Naturally, this also means that Césaire's vision or revision of Martinique occured while he was far away from the island. Césaire had a love-hate relationship with his homeland. He was born on what he thought was some second-hand motherland, an island peopled by slaves uprooted from Africa often with the complicity of Africans themselves. When he met Leopold Senghor in Paris, both men had the same enemy in common: a dominant ideology which claimed that 'Black' meant inferior and that the only solution for a Black person was to be or to become as white as possible, to pass. For a whole generation of Black students exiled in Paris, reclaiming their African heritage became a first positive step towards cultural liberation. This attempt went against the prevalent policy of assimilation, which was viewed as the only viable solution for colonised people. The word 'black' helped colonised people to unite and to build a sense of solidarity and political identity defined by common suffering. Constituted of isolated communities with nothing in common but a past of slavery and colonisation, these English-speaking, French-speaking, American, European and African people whom history had called Blacks started pooling their resources in an attempt to 'decolonise the mind'. 'Négritude' can be seen as the representative symbol of Black Parisian writers' quest for cultural identity. Négritude did little to bridge the gap between Blacks and Whites but it provided a positive image of their race for Black people all over the world. He was a very good nigger, poverty had hurt his chest and back, and they had stuffed into his poor brain that a fatality no one could trap weighed on him that cannot be grabbed by the throat, that he was powerless over his own destiny; that a malicious Lord had for all eternity written prohibition laws into his pelvic nature, that he must be a good nigger, that he must sincerely believe in his baseness, with no perverse curiosity to ever check the fateful hieroglyphics. He was a very good nigger and it never occurred to him that he could hoe, burrow, cut anything, anything else really than insipid cane He was a very good nigger. In 1935, Césaire had not yet completed his studies in Paris and the return to the native land was still an abstraction. And yet, the poet was ready to write the Notebook. The first version of the long lyrical poem was eventually completed in 1938, and published in 1939. I found it particularly interesting what Rosello had to say about the role of gender in the Notebook. It contains only one allusion to a Black woman working – the narrator's mother. One cannot but regret the remarkable absence of women in the Notebook. One of the prevailing stereotypes about Martinicans is that Black males are irresponsible, unfaithful and typically absent from the household while women assume the responsibility of raising and supporting families alone. Many analysts explain this situation as the consequence of slavery. Slave-owners made no distinction between men and women (both were considered free labour), and Black couples were not officially recognised (the owner did not hesitate to sell slaves seperately). As a result, it is generally acknowledged that Black male slaves found it impossible to protect their partners from being beaten and raped by the White Master. I also highly appreciated the time and effort that went into the translation of Césaire's poem. Rosello stresses that the difficulty of translating reclects the complexity of the relationship between French and the Notebook's language, and many passages encourage the translator to refrain from the temptation to 'correct' Césaire's French when a form of bending remains incomprehensible or when a creole expression seems to emerge from the French. This poem subtly makes the case that linguistic 'incompetence' is a relative notion, indistinguishable, from the cultural. Césaire's endless reinvention of French is also a reminder that whenever the colonised were accused of speaking broken French, they were in fact being broken by the language. They were not 'scratching' French (as the idiom goes), rather, French was 'scratching' their throats, literally, painfully. The Notebook does not only criticise exotic renderings of Martinique, it also speaks a language, a Martinican-French capable of proposing a new description of the island and of its suspiciously stereotypical palm trees and exotic food. In the Notebook, Carribean flora and fauna, food and customs are meticulously named, but most of the time, the resulting vision is unexpectedly violent and sordid. What is good and beautiful and desirable for the coloniser may be a plague for the colonised. The narrator of the Notebook does not marvel at the exotic West Indian cuisine. His allusions to food function as a reminder of the most crucial concern of a poverty-stricken people: hunger. The narrator does not only refute the narratives invented by colonialism about his native land, he also strives to rewrite his own version of History: colonialist history is not simply the opposite of a transcendal truth, it is a selection of events, of heroes which add up to a coherent vision: 'History' is used to justify the coloniser's politics. I would highly recommend checking out Césaire's work, and educating oneself on the Négritude movement. It's essential if one wants to understand most Black literature of the early 20th century.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan

    The lack of a full five is simply because you should read the bilingual edition instead, or the unexpurgated one - but, to be honest, anything is better the nothing at this point

  9. 5 out of 5

    Aberjhani

    A PRODUCT OF LITERARY FUSION Aime Cesaire's Return to My Native Land, one of the great prose-poetry works of the twentieth century, was parented by not one but three literary movements: the Negritude movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and French surrealism. The book's very rich suffusion of cultural and political nuances may be attributed to the Harlem Renaissance and the Negritude movement while its linguistic dexterity and philosophical daring would have to acknowledge some allegiance to French A PRODUCT OF LITERARY FUSION Aime Cesaire's Return to My Native Land, one of the great prose-poetry works of the twentieth century, was parented by not one but three literary movements: the Negritude movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and French surrealism. The book's very rich suffusion of cultural and political nuances may be attributed to the Harlem Renaissance and the Negritude movement while its linguistic dexterity and philosophical daring would have to acknowledge some allegiance to French surrealism. The result is a masterful examination of a soul simultaneously created by and torn between two cultural sensibilities: the European and the African. Like James Baldwin, Albert Camus, and Frantz Fanon in their various works, Cesaire in Return to My Native Land take racism and class oppression to task at the same time that he delves most deeply into the greater nature of the human condition itself. Aberjhani author of Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance and Visions of a Skylark Dressed in Black

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lauren

    "And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for a life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear..." "And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for a life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear..."

  11. 4 out of 5

    Aubrey

    3.5/5 My negritude is not a stone, its deafness hurled against the clamor of the day my negritude is not a leukoma of dead liquid over the earth's dead eye my negritude is neither tower nor cathedral it takes root in the red flesh of the soil it takes root in the ardent flesh of the sky it breaks through opaque prostration with its upright patience. Yet another super short classic that translators and editors and introduction writers did their best to ruin. Unlike On the Abolition of All Political 3.5/5 My negritude is not a stone, its deafness hurled against the clamor of the day my negritude is not a leukoma of dead liquid over the earth's dead eye my negritude is neither tower nor cathedral it takes root in the red flesh of the soil it takes root in the ardent flesh of the sky it breaks through opaque prostration with its upright patience. Yet another super short classic that translators and editors and introduction writers did their best to ruin. Unlike On the Abolition of All Political Parties, it's more obvious what they're attempting to suppress: the very negritude they take such pains to carefully explain with a two paragraph end note justifying their usage of the "n-word". Contradictory, is it not? Aimé Césaire, the purported founder of negritude, poet, political party founder, mayor, a spark of hope in the swamp of Nazism, reduced to not being "agenda laden", as if deep seated and brilliant resistance to a genocidal prescription that spread worldwide and birthed a field of thought all its own could have come across without careful and critical "agenda laden" inspirations. I suppose, then, that all the work of Fanon and hooks and Morisson was done for shits and giggles, and the only worth of it all is whatever apolitical strippings can be put into their place. I'm grateful that I was able to get a copy of this for so cheap, but I could've done with less conflicting trappings. And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile aspect of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear... Beyond all that, there's the text itself. I wasn't as wowed by it as others have been, but that may be because of I've encountered so many of its descendants and other filterings down the line from past to present. Not only the veins of Creole and Francophone postcolonialism that I've tackled in the classroom, but American Horror Story's "Coven" and The Book of Night Women and Kanye West's "Black Skinhead", all drawing on a hatred that is not their own and bending and breaking it into something that white people can never touch, all are here. This is why, when 'Notebook of a Return to the Native Land' is compared to white works, I can't take such commentary seriously. Aimé Césaire would've used whatever was at hand to compose what he needed to compose, and the fact that surrealism in the face of colonial fascism happened to cross his path is a matter of coincidence, not solidification. Unless one is making a comparison to previous black-written works, I find it hard to suspend my disbelief. Presences it is not on your back that I will make peace with the world. Grad school, if I get it, will require one or two languages outside the Anglo pale, and should that happen, I fully intend to return to this in the bilingual unexpurgated form. This won't guarantee I get all the puns and references and whatnot (anyone who tells you it's possible to be completely and utterly fluent as conveyed by all the intersections of race and class and gender and sexuality in a language is lying to you), but it'll be a start. It's certainly what this work and Aimé Césaire deserve, as while they're rightfully famous in their own regard, it is a specific kind fame, as displayed by the relative neglect of them on this site. A little at a time, then. Know this: the only game I play is the millennium the only game I play is the Great Fear

  12. 4 out of 5

    meeners

    I would rediscover the secret of great communications and great combustions. I would say storm. I would say river. I would say tornado. I would say leaf. I would say tree. I would be drenched by all rains, moistened by all dews. I would roll like frenetic blood on the slow current of the eye of words turned into mad horses into fresh children into clots into curfew into vestiges of temples into precious stones remote enough to discourage miners. Whoever would not understand me would not understa I would rediscover the secret of great communications and great combustions. I would say storm. I would say river. I would say tornado. I would say leaf. I would say tree. I would be drenched by all rains, moistened by all dews. I would roll like frenetic blood on the slow current of the eye of words turned into mad horses into fresh children into clots into curfew into vestiges of temples into precious stones remote enough to discourage miners. Whoever would not understand me would not understand any better the roaring of a tiger.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Vapula

    "I was hiding behind a stupid vanity destiny called me I was hiding behind it and suddenly there was a man on the ground, his feeble defenses scattered, his sacred maxims trampled underfoot, his pedantic rhetoric oozing air through each would. there was a man on the ground and his soul is almost naked and destiny triumphs in watching this soul which defied its metamorphosis in the ancestral slough." Absolutely fantastic work. An essential convergence of surrealism and decoloniality upon a guttural, wrenc "I was hiding behind a stupid vanity destiny called me I was hiding behind it and suddenly there was a man on the ground, his feeble defenses scattered, his sacred maxims trampled underfoot, his pedantic rhetoric oozing air through each would. there was a man on the ground and his soul is almost naked and destiny triumphs in watching this soul which defied its metamorphosis in the ancestral slough." Absolutely fantastic work. An essential convergence of surrealism and decoloniality upon a guttural, wrenching landscape of poiesis

  14. 4 out of 5

    D.A.

    "At the end of the small hours: this town, flat, displayed, brought down by its common sense..." Against the hate and exoticism Europeans unleashed for centuries on Caribbean and African lands, this haunting litany, this rhapsodic celebration of Cesaire's native Martinique, a place where "the daylight comes velvety like the sapodilla berry, the smell of liquid manure from the coconut palm" is more than glorious locales. It is a dream inside a nightmare, a poem in which the very language is breaki "At the end of the small hours: this town, flat, displayed, brought down by its common sense..." Against the hate and exoticism Europeans unleashed for centuries on Caribbean and African lands, this haunting litany, this rhapsodic celebration of Cesaire's native Martinique, a place where "the daylight comes velvety like the sapodilla berry, the smell of liquid manure from the coconut palm" is more than glorious locales. It is a dream inside a nightmare, a poem in which the very language is breaking the shackles of colonization, a triumphant release from the strangling grammars of oppression: This man is mine a man alone, imprisoned by whiteness a man alone defying the white cries of a white death Cesaire rejects violence and hatred. He writes, "do not make of me that man of hate for whom I have only hate." In one of the most impassioned and passionate poems of the twentieth century, Cesaire awakens in us a sense of hope and justice. Looking to heal the wounds of centuries, Cesaire reminds the reader that "no race holds a monopoly of beauty, intelligence and strength." It is a courageous visionary mind that drives this poem, and a necessary and urgent voice. Highly recommended for all readers, not just poets.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Tana

    Aime Cesaire is brilliant and beautiful. This prose poem shows a trajectory of self acceptance by moving from individual experience to universal experience. It is unpredictable in form, and highlights the varying black experience.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Sceox

    So good. What can I do? I must begin. Begin what? The only thing in the world that's worth beginning: The End of the World, no less. words, as yes, words! but words of fresh blood, words which are tidal waves and erysipelas malarias and lavas and bush-fires, and burning flesh and burning cities... Know this well: I never play except at the millennium I never play except at the Great Fear So good. What can I do? I must begin. Begin what? The only thing in the world that's worth beginning: The End of the World, no less. words, as yes, words! but words of fresh blood, words which are tidal waves and erysipelas malarias and lavas and bush-fires, and burning flesh and burning cities... Know this well: I never play except at the millennium I never play except at the Great Fear

  17. 4 out of 5

    Morgan Bradham

    "At the end of first light, the extreme, deceptive desolate eschar on the wound of the waters; the martyrs who do not bear witness; the flowers of blood that fade and scatter in the empty wind like the cries of babbling parrots; an aged life mendaciously smiling, its lips opened by vacated agonies; an aged poverty rotting under the sun, silently; an aged silence bursting with tepid pustules the dreadful inanity of our raison d’être. At the end of first light, on this very fragile earth thickness e "At the end of first light, the extreme, deceptive desolate eschar on the wound of the waters; the martyrs who do not bear witness; the flowers of blood that fade and scatter in the empty wind like the cries of babbling parrots; an aged life mendaciously smiling, its lips opened by vacated agonies; an aged poverty rotting under the sun, silently; an aged silence bursting with tepid pustules the dreadful inanity of our raison d’être. At the end of first light, on this very fragile earth thickness exceeded in a humiliating way by its grandiose future—the volcanoes will explode, the naked water will bear away the ripe sun stains and nothing will be left but a tepid bubbling pecked at by sea birds—the beach of dreams and the insane awakening. .... At the end of first light, the morne crouching before bulimia on the outlook for tuns and mills, slowly vomiting out its human fatigue, the morne solitary and its blood shed, the morne bandaged in shade, the morne and its ditches of fear, the morne and its great hands of wind. .... And neither the teacher in his classroom, nor the priest at catechism will be able to get a word out of this sleepy little picaninny, no matter how energetically they drum on his shorn skull, for starvation has quicksanded his voice into the swamp of hunger .... And our idiotic and insane stunts to revive the golden splashing of privileged moments, the umbilical cord restored to its ephemeral splendor, the bread, and the wine of complicity, the bread, the wine, the blood of veracious weddings. .... And this joy of former times making me aware of my present poverty, a bumpy road plunging into a hollow where it scatters a few shacks; .... After August and mango trees decked out in all their lunules, September begetter of cyclones, October igniter of sugarcane, November purring in the distilleries, there came Christmas. It had come in first, Christmas did, with a tingling of desires, a thirst for new tendernesses, a burgeoning of vague dreams, then with a purple rustle of its great joyous wings it had suddenly flown away, and after that its abrupt fall out over the village making shack life burst like an overripe pomegranate. Christmas was not like other holidays. It didn’t like to gad about the streets, to dance on public squares, to mount the carousel horses, to use the crowd to pinch women, to hurl fireworks into the faces of the tamarind trees. It had agoraphobia, Christmas did. What it wanted was a whole day of bustling, preparing, a cooking and cleaning spree, endless jitters, about not-having-enough, about-running-short, about-getting-bored, then at evening an unimposing little church that would benevolently make room for the laughter, the whispers, the secrets, the love talk, the gossip and the guttural cacophony of a plucky singer and also boisterous pals and shameless hussies and shacks up to their guts in succulent goodies, and not stingy, and twenty people can crowd in, and the street is deserted, and the village turns into a bouquet of singing, and you are cozy in there, and you eat good, and you drink heartily, and there are blood sausages, one kind only two fingers wide twined in coils, another broad and stocky, the mild one tasting of wild thyme, the hot one spiced to an incandescence, and steaming coffee and sugared anisette, and milk .... At the peak of its ascent, joy bursts like a cloud. The songs don’t stop, but roll now anxious and heavy through the valleys of fear, the tunnels of anguish and the fires of hell. And everybody starts pulling the nearest devil by the tail, until fear imperceptibly fades in the fine sand lines of dream, and you really live as in a dream, and you drink and you shout and you sing as in a dream, and doze too as in a dream with rose petal eyelids, and the day comes velvety as a sapodilla, and the liquid manure smell of the cacao trees, and the turkeys shelling their red pustules in the sun, and the obsessive bells, and the rain, the bells … the rain … that tinkle, tinkle, tinkle … .... At the end of first light, life prostrate, you don’t know how to dispose of your aborted dreams, the river of life desperately torpid in its bed, neither .... At the end of first light, another little house very bad-smelling in a very narrow street, a miniscule house that harbors in its guts of rotten wood dozens of rats and the turbulence of my six brothers and sisters, a cruel little house whose demands panic the ends of our months and my temperamental father gnawed by one persistent ache, I never knew which one, whom an unexpected sorcery could lull to melancholy tenderness or drive to towering flames of anger, and my mother whose legs pedal, pedal, day and night, for our tireless hunger, I am even awakened at night by these tireless legs pedaling by night and the bitter bite in the soft flesh of the night by a Singer that my mother pedals, pedals for our hunger both day and night. .... To leave. My heart was humming with emphatic generosities. To leave. … I would arrive sleek and young in this land of mine and I would say to this land whose loam is part of my flesh: “I have wandered for a long time and I am coming back to the deserted hideousness of your sores.” I would come to this land of mine and I would say to it: “Embrace me without fear … And if all I can do is speak, it is for you I shall speak.” And again I would say: “My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth, my voice the freedom of those who break down in the prison holes of despair.” And on the way I would say to myself: “And above all, my body as well as my soul beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear …” And behold here I am come home! .... and all these deaths futile absurdities under the splashing of my open conscience tragic futilities lit up by this single noctiluca and I alone, sudden stage of this first light where the apocalypse of monsters cavorts then, capsized, hushes warm election of cinders, of ruins and collapses .... At the end of first light, the male thirst and the desire stubborn, here I am, severed from the cool oases of brotherhood this so modest nothing bristles with hard splinters this too sure horizon shudders like a jailer. .... By a sudden and beneficent inner revolution I now honor my repugnant ugliness. .... I refuse to pass off my puffiness for authentic glory. And I laugh at my former puerile fantasies. .... And the tawer was Poverty. A big unexpected lop-eared bat whose claw marks in his face had scabbed over into crusty islands. Or rather, Poverty was, like a tireless worker, laboring over some hideous cartouche. .... Poverty, without any question, had knocked itself out to finish him off. It had dug the socket, had painted it with a rouge of dust mixed with rheum. It had stretched an empty space between the solid hinge of the jaw and the bones in an old tarnished cheek. .... So, being what we are, ours the warrior thrust, the triumphant knee, the well-plowed plains of the future! Look, I’d rather admit to uninhibited ravings, my heart in my brain like a drunken knee. My star now, the funereal menfenil. .... I was hiding behind a stupid vanity destiny called me I was hiding behind it and suddenly there was man on the ground! His feeble defenses scattered, his sacred maxims trampled underfoot, his pedantic rhetoric so much hot air through each wound. There was man on the ground and his soul appears naked and destiny triumphs in watching this soul which defied its metamorphosis in the ancestral quagmire. .... I say that this is right. I live for the flattest part of my soul. For the dullest part of my flesh! .... those who invented neither powder nor compass those who could harness neither steam nor electricity those who explored neither the seas nor the sky but knew in its most minute corners the land of suffering those who have known voyages only through uprootings those who have been lulled to sleep by so much kneeling those whom they domesticated and Christianized those whom they inoculated with degeneracy tom-toms of empty hands inane tom-toms of resounding sores burlesque tom-toms of tabetic treason .... but who yield, seized, to the essence of all things ignorant of surfaces but captivated by the motion of all things indifferent to conquering, but playing the game of the world truly the eldest sons of the world porous to all the breathing of the world fraternal locus for all the breathing of the world drainless channel for all the water of the world spark of the sacred fire of the world flesh of the world’s flesh pulsating with the very motion of the world! Tepid first light of ancestral virtues Blood! Blood! all our blood aroused by the male heart of the sun those who know about the femininity of the moon’s oily body the reconciled exultation of antelope and star those whose survival walks on the germination of the grass! Eia perfect circle of the world and enclosed concordance! .... Hear the white world horribly weary from its immense effort its rebellious joints cracking under the hard stars its blue steel rigidities piercing the mystic flesh hear its proditorious victories touting its defeats hear the grandiose alibis for its pitiful stumbling .... And here at the end of this first light my virile prayer that I hear neither the laughter nor the screams, my eyes fixed on this town that I prophesy, beautiful, grant me the courage of the martyr grant me the savage faith of the sorcerer grant my hands the power to mold grant my soul the sword’s temper I won’t flinch. Make my head into a figurehead and as for me, my heart, make me not into a father nor a brother, nor a son, but into the father, the brother, the son, nor a husband, but the lover of this unique people. Make me resist all vanity, but espouse its genius like the fist the extended arm! Make me a steward of its blood make me a trustee of its resentment make me into a man of termination make me into a man of initiation make me into a man of meditation but also make me into a man of germination .... And see the tree of our hands! it turns for all, the wounds cut in its trunk the soil works for all and toward the branches a headiness of fragrant precipitation! But before reaching the shores of future orchards grant that I deserve those on their belt of sea grant me my heart while awaiting the earth grant me on the ocean sterile but somewhere caressed by the promise of the clew-line grant me on this diverse ocean the obstinacy of the proud pirogue and its marine vigor. See it advance rising and falling on the pulverized wave see it dance the sacred dance before the grayness of the village see it trumpet from a vertiginous conch see the conch gallop up to the uncertainty of the mornes and see twenty times over the paddles vigorously plow the water the pirogue rears under the attack of the swells, deviates for an instant, tries to escape, but the paddle’s rough caress turns it, then it charges, a shudder runs along the wave’s spine, the sea slobbers and rumbles the pirogue like a sleigh glides onto the sand. .... Look, now I am only a man (no degradation, no spit perturbs him) now I am only a man who accepts emptied of anger (nothing left in his heart but immense love) I accept … I accept … totally, without reservation … my race that no ablution of hyssop mixed with lilies could purify .... and far from the palatial sea that foams under the suppurating syzygy of blisters, the body of my country miraculously laid in the despair of my arms, its bones shattered and in its veins, the blood hesitating like a drop of vegetal milk at the injured point of a bulb… Suddenly now strength and life assail me like a bull and I revive onan who entrusted his sperm to the fecund earth and the water of life circumvents the papilla of the morne, and now all the veins and veinlets are bustling with new blood and the enormous breathing lung of cyclones and the fire hoarded in volcanoes and the gigantic seismic pulse that now beats the measure of a living body in my firm embrace. And we are standing now, my country and I, hair in the wind, my hand puny in its enormous fist and the strength is not in us, but above us, in a voice that drills the night and the hearing like the penetrance of an apocalyptic wasp. And the voice proclaims that for centuries Europe has force-fed us with lies and bloated us with pestilence, for it is not true that the work of man is done that we have no business being in the world that we parasite the world that it is enough for us to heel to the world whereas the work of man has only begun and man still must overcome all the interdictions wedged in the recesses of his fervor and no race has a monopoly on beauty, on intelligence, on strength and there is room for everyone at the convocation of conquest and we know now that the sun turns around our earth lighting the parcel designated by our will alone and that every star falls from sky to earth at our omnipotent command. .... Rally to my side my dances and let the sun bounce on the racket of my hands But no the unequal sun is not enough for me coil, wind, around my new growth light on my cadenced fingers To you I surrender my conscience and its fleshy rhythm To you I surrender the fire in which my weakness sparkles To you I surrender the chain gang To you the swamps To you the non-tourist of the triangular circuit Devour wind To you I surrender my abrasive words Devour and encoil yourself And coiling round embrace me with a more ample shudder Embrace me unto furious us Embrace, embrace us But having also bitten us! To the blood of our blood bitten us! Embrace, my purity mingles only with your purity so then embrace! Like a field of upright filaos at dusk our multicolored purities. And bind, bind me without remorse bind me with your vast arms of luminous clay bind my black vibration to the very navel of the world Bind, bind me, bitter brotherhood Then, strangling me with your lasso of stars rise, Dove rise rise rise I follow you who are imprinted on my ancestral white cornea Rise sky licker And the great black hole where a moon ago I wanted to drown It is there I will now fish the malevolent tongue of the night in its still verticity!"

  18. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    This long and surrealist poem is not only a cry of anger and pain against the effect of slavery and colonialism. It's also a war cry coming from the heart, and Cesaire's choice of weapon are words. It's the cry of the new "negritude", the cry of the chained man who decides to get free of his chains. What I can only call Cesaire's "freedom rage" is expressed by the choice of getting free of traditional poetry rules. He alternates between prose and free verses and uses a powerfully contrasted imag This long and surrealist poem is not only a cry of anger and pain against the effect of slavery and colonialism. It's also a war cry coming from the heart, and Cesaire's choice of weapon are words. It's the cry of the new "negritude", the cry of the chained man who decides to get free of his chains. What I can only call Cesaire's "freedom rage" is expressed by the choice of getting free of traditional poetry rules. He alternates between prose and free verses and uses a powerfully contrasted imagery that leaves the reader in shock and breathless. I had to re-read it a few times to get used to the vocabulary and understand the nuances of Cesaire's message and still I feel like there are so many hidden clues I haven't deciphered yet. It was published in 1939 and it may seem obsolete, but its message is universal and timeless for any oppressed group or individual: resignation is not an option.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Jana Tetzlaff

    I had a class on Aimé Césaire at university years ago. I remember that reading Cahier d'un retour au pays natal was so difficult, but absolutely worthwhile. I think I spent more time preparing for this class than for any of the other ones that year (well, probaly with the exception of Latin...if I happened to take both classes the same semester...I really don't remember). That must have been the single most interesting class I had in French studies, not for any intersting discussions or analyses I had a class on Aimé Césaire at university years ago. I remember that reading Cahier d'un retour au pays natal was so difficult, but absolutely worthwhile. I think I spent more time preparing for this class than for any of the other ones that year (well, probaly with the exception of Latin...if I happened to take both classes the same semester...I really don't remember). That must have been the single most interesting class I had in French studies, not for any intersting discussions or analyses with/from students or lecturers (nope, certainly not with that bunch), but just for the genius work of Aimé Césaire. i probably would never have come across this writer if it hadn't been for the uni course. So, thank you Professor Pagni! :o)

  20. 4 out of 5

    Zachary Bush

    One of the absolute greatest long poems I've ever read. And, of course, one of the weirdest. I will soon re-read it again, and again. One of the absolute greatest long poems I've ever read. And, of course, one of the weirdest. I will soon re-read it again, and again.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sean A.

    A masterpiece. I'd like to read Eschleman's translation, as I read a different version. A masterpiece. I'd like to read Eschleman's translation, as I read a different version.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Dustin Kurtz

    Marvelous. Marvelous. I'd forgotten so many details about this poem. The facing edition is an angry pleasure for the tongue. Marvelous. Marvelous. I'd forgotten so many details about this poem. The facing edition is an angry pleasure for the tongue.

  23. 5 out of 5

    D

    A true original, powerful and inspiring. His reliance on "the blowtorch of humor" in denouncing the effects of colonialism on his Caribbean island home (Martinique) is a clear indication that Césaire had also understood the corrosive poetics of Lautréamont. The alexandrine is so culturally ingrained that the French ear picks it up unselfconsciously. [An alexandrine is a line of poetic meter comprising 12 syllables. Alexandrines are common in the German literature of the Baroque period and in French A true original, powerful and inspiring. His reliance on "the blowtorch of humor" in denouncing the effects of colonialism on his Caribbean island home (Martinique) is a clear indication that Césaire had also understood the corrosive poetics of Lautréamont. The alexandrine is so culturally ingrained that the French ear picks it up unselfconsciously. [An alexandrine is a line of poetic meter comprising 12 syllables. Alexandrines are common in the German literature of the Baroque period and in French poetry of the early modern and modern periods.] Suzanne Césaire described the traits of the "Ethiopian" peoples of Africa in Tropiques: Ethiopian civilization is tied to the plant, to the vegetative cycle. // It is dreamlike, mystical and turned inward. The Ethiopian does not seek to understand phenomena, to seize and dominate exterior reality. It gives itself over to living a life identical to that of the plant, confident in life's continuity: germinate grow, flower, fruit, and the cycle begins again (S. Césaire 1941). "I accept, I accept it all." This is the goal of the process of anagnorisis. WIth self-awareness come a new knowledge of what is at stake. The speaker must, in conclusion, reach a position that transcends the colonial deadend. The speaker's spiritual renewal opens with a pietà. The body of his country, its bones broken, is placed in his despairing arms. At the end of first light, the wind of long ago -- of betrayed trusts, of uncertain evasive duty and that other dawn in Europe -- arises... "My mouth shall be the mouth of those calamities that have no mouth, my voice the freedom of those who break down in the prison holes of despair." Once again this life hobbling before me, what am I saying this life, this death, this death without meaning or piety, this death that so pathetically falls short of greatness, the dazzling pettiness of this death... (niggers-are-all-alike, I-tell-you vices-all-the-vices, believe-you-me... nigger-smell, that's-what-makes-cane-grow remember-the-old-saying: beat-a-nigger, and you feed him) around rocking chairs contemplating the voluptousness of quirts... By a sudden and beneficent inner revolution I now honor my repugnant ugliness. He was a gangly nigger without rhythm or measure. A nigger with a voice fogged over by alcohol and poverty. A nigger whose eyes rolled a bloodshot weariness. Poverty, without any question, had knocked itself out to finish him off. Me I turned, my eyes proclaiming that I had nothing in common with this monkey. He was COMICAL AND UGLY, COMICAL AND UGLY for sure. I displayed a big complicitous smile... My cowardice rediscovered! My star now, the funereal menfenil. [menfenil: According to Jourdain, the menfenil (also known as the malfini) is the Falco sparverious caribaerum, or the Caribbean sparrow hawk https://books.google.com/books?id=JzF...] [58] I saw that this is right. I live for the flattest part of my soul. For the dullest part of my flesh! [63] But what strange pride of a sudden illuminates me? [64] O friendly light O fresh source of light those who invented neither powder nor compass ... my negritude is neither tower nor cathedral Eia for the royal Cailcedra! Eia for those who never invented anything for those who never explored anything for those who never conquered anything Eia is an imperative found in ancient Greek drama and in the Latin missal. [cailcedra: The Khaya Senegalensis, a tall tree of Senegambia, resembling the mahogany. Its wood is used in joiners] and as for me, my heart, make me not into a father nor a brother, nor a son, but into the father, the brother, the son, nor a husband, but the lover of this unique people. [78] the time has come to gird one's loins like a brave man. ... you know that it is not from hatred of other races that I demand of myself to be a differ for this unique race that what I want is for universal hunger for universal thirst [80] to summon it free at last [81] to generate from its intimate closeness the succulence of fruit. [86] grant me pirogue* muscles on this raging sea and the irresistible gaiety of the conch of good tidings! *a long narrow canoe made from a single tree trunk, especially in Central America and the Caribbean. [87] Look, now I am only a man (no degradation, not spit perturbs him) and I am only a man who accepts emptied of anger (nothing left in his heart but immense love) I accept... I accept... totally, without reservation... [94] whereas the work of man has only begun [99] And it never occurred to him that he could hoe, dig, cut anything, anything else really than insipid cane. [100] He was a very good nigger. [1-2] And the whip argued with the bombilation of the flies over the sugary dew of our sores. [105] In vain to amuse himself the captain hangs the biggest loudmouth nigger from the main yard or throws him into the sea, or feeds him to his mastiffs. Embrace, my purity mingles only with your purity so then embrace! Like a field of upright filaos* at dusk our multicolored purities. And bind, bind me without remorse bind me with your vast arms of luminous clay bind my black vibration to the very navel of the world Bind, bing me, bitter brotherhood Then, strangling me with your lasso of stars rise, Dove rise rise rise I follow you who are imprinted on my ancestral white cornea Rise sky licker And the great black hole where a moon ago I wanted to drown It is there I will now fish the malevolent tongue of the night in its still verticity! *she-oak (beach she-oak), whistling tree, horsetail she oak, horsetail beefwood, horsetail tree, Australian pine, ironwood, whistling pine, Filao tree, and agoho verticity = a tendency (as shown by a magnetized needle) to turn toward a magnetic pole a little ellipsoidal nothing - a derisive designation for Mantinique, which is finger-like in shape.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Jimmy

    Read it in a fury last night, which is probably the way to experience it. Loved some parts of it. Other parts kind of flew over my head. My rating is provisional as this work obviously needs to be re-read and understood within a larger context, and I have yet to do that work. On the first read, I can tell you that I loved the passion in this... the rage, the imagery, and the irony. I also want to try a different translation when I re-read it, possibly this one translated by Clayton Eshleman or th Read it in a fury last night, which is probably the way to experience it. Loved some parts of it. Other parts kind of flew over my head. My rating is provisional as this work obviously needs to be re-read and understood within a larger context, and I have yet to do that work. On the first read, I can tell you that I loved the passion in this... the rage, the imagery, and the irony. I also want to try a different translation when I re-read it, possibly this one translated by Clayton Eshleman or this one translated by Mireille Rosello (a GR review here says this translator had a very informative introduction, which I want to read too)

  25. 4 out of 5

    Kyle

    "I would rediscover the secret of great communications and great combustions. I would say storm. I would say river. I would say tornado. I would say leaf. I would say tree, I would be drenched by all rains, moistened by all dews. I would roll like frenetic blood on the slow current of the eye of words turned into mad horses into fresh children into clots into curfew into vestiges of temples into precious stones remote enough to discourage miners. Whoever would not understand me would not underst "I would rediscover the secret of great communications and great combustions. I would say storm. I would say river. I would say tornado. I would say leaf. I would say tree, I would be drenched by all rains, moistened by all dews. I would roll like frenetic blood on the slow current of the eye of words turned into mad horses into fresh children into clots into curfew into vestiges of temples into precious stones remote enough to discourage miners. Whoever would not understand me would not understand any better the roaring of a tiger."

  26. 5 out of 5

    Kirby

    I had to read this three times to really get a grip on it. The language is insane— super lush and evocative and visceral. The content will sucker punch you. The voice still feels so contemporary and prescient after all these years. I would recommend reading up a little on Aime Cesaire and the history of colonialism in Martinique before diving into this to provide some deeper context.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Irène

    I truly can't rate this book. It's just another level of word-use ✨ I truly can't rate this book. It's just another level of word-use ✨

  28. 4 out of 5

    isaac lim

    "bind me with your vast arms of luminous clay" ugh I should've known the intellectual daddy of Fanon and C.L.R James would be so good "bind me with your vast arms of luminous clay" ugh I should've known the intellectual daddy of Fanon and C.L.R James would be so good

  29. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    Another book I read for my "The Other Caribbean" English literature graduate course. Definitely a surrealistic sort of book. It left me with some interesting thoughts. Definitely a different tone from A Small Place. Although the speaker has returned from his time abroad. You can see the love he has for his birthplace. He is invested in it. Could it be because Martinique remained with the France as its protectorate position? I am not sure. Another book I read for my "The Other Caribbean" English literature graduate course. Definitely a surrealistic sort of book. It left me with some interesting thoughts. Definitely a different tone from A Small Place. Although the speaker has returned from his time abroad. You can see the love he has for his birthplace. He is invested in it. Could it be because Martinique remained with the France as its protectorate position? I am not sure.

  30. 5 out of 5

    James

    A rallying monument of a book that became a foundational text for postcolonial thought. Drawing upon a lyrical mixture of Negritude, Surrealism, new words, old forms, idiosyncratic language, Césaire constructs a lush, violent landscape of colonised Martinique: its beauty, its bodily horror, its tortured past as well as the Edenic vision of a possible future. This 1939 edition preserves some of the spiritual and surreal elements that Césaire later removed; he altered the text to emphasise the soc A rallying monument of a book that became a foundational text for postcolonial thought. Drawing upon a lyrical mixture of Negritude, Surrealism, new words, old forms, idiosyncratic language, Césaire constructs a lush, violent landscape of colonised Martinique: its beauty, its bodily horror, its tortured past as well as the Edenic vision of a possible future. This 1939 edition preserves some of the spiritual and surreal elements that Césaire later removed; he altered the text to emphasise the sociopolitical aspects that matched his own intellectual and political journey. Unfortunately, the introduction of this edition is flat and distant, focusing too much on prosody where general context and analyses might have benefited a reader new to Césaire's work.

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