Soundings in French Caribbean Writing Since 1950: The Shock of Space and Time

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Over the second half of the twentieth century, a substantial flow of writing emerged from the French-held Caribbean. Much of this work is both theoretically knowing and poetically potent and has attracted international attention to the literary resonances of the uniquely complex geo-historical situation of the Caribbean, and indeed of the Americas in general. Much of its passion, pertinence, and appeal inheres in its approach to time and to space, an approach still reverberating with the shock of displacement and its various after-tremors: an exploded sense of diversity; radical relativization; the profound expropriations of enslavement; colonial erosion. Through readings of high-profile as well as lesser known writing, this book tracks some of the more striking tensions and tropisms at work in the French Caribbean imagination of space and time and their intersection. It studies generic interplay, textual palimpseste, narrative structure, and other dynamics of writing that realize and manipulate the intersections of time and space, history and memory, writing and rewriting, voice and text, referential space and (inter)textual space, as well as cultural theory and literary practice, identity and difference, place and displacement. In this way, it probes both the strains and the stresses, and also the insights and gravitations that make for the particular 'French Caribbean' timbre of this volume of writing. This specific vibration, while illuminating Caribbean, New World, and post-colonial thinking in general, also encourages wider reflection on global resonances of displacement and dislocation and on more general issues such as the role of writing, and of narrative in particular, in the confrontation of absence and presence, loss and desire, distance and diversity. This book locates the problematic of time/space in relation to historiographical, geo-cultural, and phenomenological thinking and it also takes account of the detonation of critical interest in what is broadly termed post-colonial writing. Its fundamental concern, however, is to show how a particular corpus of writing has, in the space of half a century, and from a bracing position of hyper-relationality, responded imaginatively and poetically to the challenge of envisioning place, and of relating space to time.