Cahier D'un Retour Au Pays Natal

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Ohio State University Press, 2000 - Literary Criticism - 158 pages
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Born in 1913 in Martinique, Aime Cesaire is acknowledged as one of the major poets of the twentieth century writing in French, and his celebrated long poem, Cashier d'un retour au pays natal (Notebook of a return to the native land), is his best known work. In addition containing the most forceful statement of Negritude (a term coined by Cesaire and appearing in print for the first time in this poem), Cahier is a masterpiece of modern French poetry. In his 1947 preface to the first edition, Andre Breton hailed it as "the greatest lyrical monument of the age". The only truly long poem in the Surrealist tradition, Cahier belongs as much to "mainstream" French literature as to the evolving canon of African and Caribbean literature in French.

The poem is marked by its allusive character, its highly compressed images, and its unusual use of the French language. In preparing this edition, Abiola Irele has tried to keep the needs of the English-language student foremost in mind. The edition presents the complete text of the poem in French, with an editorial apparatus in English that includes a substantial introduction setting it in its historical and ideological context and offering a detailed analysis of its literary significance; a stanza-by-stanza commentary explicating references and allusions; and a select bibliography of related works.

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About the author (2000)

Poet and politician Aimé Césaire was born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique on June 26, 1913. He attended high school and college in France. While in Paris, he helped found the journal Black Student in the 1930s. During World War II, he returned to Martinique and was mayor of Fort-de-France from 1945 to 2001, except for a break from 1983 to 1984. He also served in France's National Assembly from 1946 to 1956 and from 1958 to 1993. In 1946, he helped Martinique shed its colonial status and become an overseas department of France. Some of his best known works include the book Discourse on Colonialism, the essay Negro I Am, Negro I Will Remain, and the poem Notes from a Return to the Native Land. He was being treated for heart problems and other ailments when he died on April 17, 2008.

Irele is a professor of African, French, and Comparative Literature at The Ohio State University.

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