|Keywords:||race, untimely freedom; leadership, black theatre; Aimé Césaire, postcolonialism|
|Full text PDF:||http://hdl.handle.net/1813/44372|
This dissertation investigates the interrelation between Césaire's literary and political practice. I focus on his dramatic production ranging from 1946 to 1968, the year marking the first publication of his last play, Une Tempête; I also consider works for which the dramatist engaged important structural revisions, particularly Et les Chiens se Taisaient. My work puts Césaire's Negritudinist literary politics in dialogue with the critique of his political and literary legacy by the writers of the Créolité movement; so doing, I suggest we use the critical lenses of a more encompassing historical approach akin to the recent work on Césaire by literary and cultural critics such as John Walsh (Free and French in the Caribbean) and Gary Wilder (Freedom Time). By investigating the political history of both the anticolonial resistance to French imperialism and post-World War II decolonization movements, I argue that although Césaire's political leadership may appear at odds with the militancy expressed in his literature (his dramatic work in particular), this seemingly paradoxical or ambivalent predilection translates a more pragmatic approach to politics. I thereby maintain that literature (drama to be precise) becomes a mode of cognition for models of political leadership Césaire may choose to affiliate with, or avoid completely for that matter. In this regard, Césaire's writing doubles as a scribal space from which he can negotiate a novel conception of freedom inscribed within the historical legacy of 'race' as the sum total of the lived experience of forcible economic exploitation of the labor of slaves brought from the coasts of West and Central Africa. Beyond the reality of their brutal political oppression in the Americas, Césaire attempts to redefine postcolonial emancipation into a political ideal that transcends sheer geographical boundaries, from the French Caribbean (the Martinican 'nation,' Haïti) to Africa (the Congo). In this perspective, Césaire's paradigm of time acquires elastic properties through its rejection of the western European notion of linear temporality to embrace, instead, what Gary Wilder has termed 'untimeliness,' as far as the deployment of liberty is concerned in Césaire - I will expand on this notion in the introduction. Chapter One reviews the unfolding of the project of freedom as conceived by Toussaint L'Ouverture for Haïti by engaging the manner in which the Haitian Revolution is narrated in Et les Chiens se Taisaient. Given the existence of two versions of the latter text, this analysis traces the staging of the narrative of freedom in the French Caribbean as well as its articulation within the politico-historical context of Césaire's writing. The subsequent unfolding of Césaire's voice as a dramatist consequently challenges critical methodologies attempting to label the text one way or another ('play' versus 'poetic drama,' for instance). In this consideration, this chapter also directs its gaze at the tension infused in the production and publication of the San Die Typescript… Advisors/Committee Members: Cohen,Walter Isaac (committeeMember), Aching,Gerard Laurence (committeeMember).