Rewriting the Return of Africa: Voices of Francophone Caribbean Women Writers
Rewriting The Return to Africa: Voices of Francophone Caribbean Women Writers examines the ways Guadeloupean women writers Maryse Condé, Simone Schwarz-Bart and Myriam Warner-Vieyra demystify the theme of the return to Africa as opposed to the its masculinist version by Négritude male writers from the 1930s to 1960s. Négritude, a cultural and literary movement, drew much of its strength from the idea of a mythical or cultural reconnection with the African past allegorized as a mother figure. In contrast these women writers, of the post-colonial era who are to large extent heirs of Négritude, differ sharply from their male counterparts in their representation of Africa. In their novels, the continent is not represented as a propitious mother figure but a disappointing father figure. This study argues that these women writers' subversion of the metaphorical figure of Africa and its transformation is tied to their gender. The women novelists are indeed critical of a female allegorization of the land that is reminiscent of a colonial or nationalist project and a simplistic representation of motherhood that does not reflect the complexities of the Diaspora's relation to origins and identity. Unlike the primary male writers of the Négritude movement, theycarefully "gendered" the notion of return by choosing female protagonists who made their way back to the Motherland in search of identity. I argue that writing is a more suitable space for the female subject seeking identity because it allows her to havea voice and become subject rather than object as that was the case with the Négritude writers. The women writers' shattering of the image of Mother Africa and subsequently that of Father Africa highlights the complex relationship between Africa and the Diaspora from a female point of view. It shifts the identity quest of the characters towards the Caribbean, which emerges as the real problematic mother: a multi-faceted, fragmented figure that reflects the constitutive clash that occurred in the archipelago between Europe, Africa, and the Americas where the issues of race, gender, class, culture, ethnicity, history, and language are very complex.
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Aimé Césaire ancestors Antillanité author’s Black c’est Caribbean motherland Césaire Chamoiseau colonial Condé’s fiction continent créole Creole culture Creole language Créolité critic Diaspora discourse exile experience explore father figure female characters feminism feminist femme Francis Sancher Francophone Francophone Caribbean French French language French-Caribbean gender genealogy Glissant Guadeloupean Haitian Hélène Heremakhonon hero’s heroine husband Ibrahim Sory idea Jean L’Horizon Jean’s journey Juletane Juletane’s Léopold Sédar Senghor literary lives madness magic realism Mamadou Mamadou’s mangrove Marie-Hélène Maryse Condé metaphor métissage Middle Passage motherhood Myriam myth narrative narrator Ndeye Négritude noire novel one’s oral culture origins Paris past patriarchal Patrick Chamoiseau Pluie et Vent political polygamy problematic protagonist racial Raphaël Confiant reader reality rejection relationship return to Africa return to Guadeloupe role saison à Rihata Simone Schwarz-Bart slavery slaves social space story storyteller Télumée tion tradition Traversée Véronica Wademba Warner-Vieyra wife woman women writers