Entangled Caribbean rewriting, C.L.R. James, Aimé Césaire, and their books as postcolonial lieux de mémoire

Douglas, R. (2021) Entangled Caribbean rewriting, C.L.R. James, Aimé Césaire, and their books as postcolonial lieux de mémoire. Francosphères, 10(1), pp. 91-105. (doi: 10.3828/franc.2021.7)

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This article argues that books such as C.L.R. James’s The Black Jacobins (1938) and Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (1939) can be important postcolonial lieux de mémoire (sites or realms of memory). Examining where memory is crystallized in book form, the article explores the entangled genealogies and rewriting of both key Caribbean works. Both James’s history and Césaire’s poem were rewritten repeatedly over the decades. My argument is that these two Caribbean foundation stones are themselves key Caribbean sites of memory in their own right. Césaire’s Cahier becomes a crucial new element in James’s rewritten history. The article tracks the ongoing and layered process of memory as palimpsest through which James’s 1963 revised edition of The Black Jacobins is itself constituted. James’s creative translation and ‘misreading’ of Césaire’s poem is analysed as the means through which the Trinidadian Marxist makes the poem his own. This article explores a range of postcolonial memory sites including the 1968 Cultural Congress in Havana, Cuba, where both writers met, and the 1969 London performance of Cahier readings. Finally, the article considers the writers’ gravestones to see how the writers’ words have been used to memorialize James, Césaire, and their writing.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council under grant AH/I001662/1, the British Academy under grant SG-51932 and by the Carnegie Trust for the Universities of Scotland under grant SRG031526.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Douglas, Dr Rachel
Authors: Douglas, R.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Modern Languages and Cultures > French
Journal Name:Francosphères
Publisher:Liverpool University Press
ISSN (Online):2046-3839
First Published:First published in Francosphères 10(1):91–105

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
167595Rewriting the Haitian Revolution - C.L.R. James's The Black Jacobins in ContextRachel DouglasArts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)AH/I001662/1Arts - French