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Cesaire Page

Cesaire Page

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Aime Cesaire
Biography
A
ime Cesaire was born in 1913 in Martinique in the French Caribbean. He left for Paris in1931 at the age of 18 with a scholarship for school. During his time at the Lycee Louis-leGrand, he helped found a student publication, Etudiant Noir. In 1936 Cesaire startedworking on his famed piece "Cahier" which was not published until 1939. He marriedfellow student Suzanne Roussi in 1937, and the couple moved back to Martinique withtheir son in 1939. Both Aime and Suzanne got jobs at the Lycee Schoelcher. In 1945Cesaire began his political career when he was elected mayor of Fort-de-France and deputyin the Constituent Assembly on the French Communist Party ticket. During the 1940s,Cesaire was busy writing and publishing many collections of his work. He seemed to beinfluenced by art because he wrote a tribute to a painter named Wilfredo Lam and one of his collections has illustrations by Pablo Picasso (Cesaire xxxviii). In 1956 Aime Cesaireresigned from the French Communist Party and two years later he began the "PartiProgressiste Martiniquais." During these years Cesaire attended two conferences for"Negro Writers and Artists" in Paris. In 1968 he published the first version of UneTempete, "a radical adaptation of Shakespeare's play The Tempest" (Davis xvi). Hecontinued on with his writings of poetry and plays and retired from politics in 1993. All of Cesaire's writings are in French with a limited number having English translations.
Poetry
C
esaire's poetry has been described as a style between "artistic 'modernism' and blackconsciousness" (14). His writing can also be characterized as surreal. Cesaire is closelyrelated to the word "negritude," which signifies the black youth's attempt to maintain apositive racial identity (3). Many of his works combine the two ideas of negritude andsurrealism. Surrealism is defined as "a modern movement in art and literature in which anattempt is made to portray or interpret the workings of the unconscious mind as manifestedin dreams; it is characterized by an irrational, fantastic, arrangement of materials"(Webster's 1348). Cesaire's poems are usually unrhyming and the style can be challenging.Cesaire's poetry also contains many metaphors which can confuse his readers.
Cesairehttp://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Cesaire.html1 of 49/6/09 3:14 AM
 
Drama
C
esaire began to focus on drama with the use of the poem "Chiens." The poem containsdifferent dialogues in it so Cesaire made it into a play. In 1968 he published, Une Tempete,a version of Shakespeare's famous play The Tempest. He wanted to reflect black Americain this play but the setting is the Caribbean. Davis argues that "The central paradigm of thecolonizer / colonized relation, as it is constructed in The Tempest, embraces the totality of the black experience in the New World"(157). Cesaire wanted to depict Black life inAmerica. Many critics believe Cesaire's version of The Tempest is about the relationshipbetween the colonizer and the colonized and the struggle for absolute power. In the play,Prospero is the master of the two men Caliban and Ariel. Prospero is the colonizer andboth Caliban and Ariel attempt to gain their freedom from him. Caliban's approach tofreedom is through rebellion while Ariel tries "to appeal to his [Prospero's] moralconscience"(161). In the end, Caliban's rebellion fails when all he wanted was to be hisown master. In his final speech, Caliban charges Prospero with lying to him and holdinghim inferior. It is a classic example of the colonized rejecting the colonizer. This is a quotetaken from this final speech by Caliban,Prospero, you are the master of illusion.Lying is your trademark.And you have lied so much to me(lied about the world, lied about me)that you have ended by imposing on mean image of myself.underdeveloped, you brand me, inferior,Thatís the way you have forced me to see myself I detest that image! What's more, it's a lie!But now I know you, you old cancer,and I know myself as well. (162)This final scene in The Tempest shows Cesaire's attitude towards colonization. Thecolonizer imposes on the colonized all kinds of lies. The colonizer makes the colonizedfeel unworthy of living.
Works by Aime Cesaire
 Collected Works:Euvres Completes. Vol.1 (Poesie), Vol. 2 (Theatre), Vol. 3 (Euvre historique et politique).Fort-de-France : Editions Desormeaux, 1976.Eshleman, Clayton and Smith, Annette, trans. Aime Cesaire : The Collected Poetry.Berkley: Univ. of CA Press, 1983.Maximin, Daniel and Carpentier, Gilles, eds. La Poesie. Paris : Seuil, 1994.
Cesairehttp://www.english.emory.edu/Bahri/Cesaire.html2 of 49/6/09 3:14 AM
 
 Poetry:Les Armes miraculeuses. Paris : Gallimard, 1946.Soliel cou coupe. Paris : Editions K, 1948.Corps perdu. Paris : Fragrance, 1950.Cahier díun retour au pays natal. Paris : Presence Africaine, 1956.Ferrements. Paris : Seuil, 1960.Cadastre. Paris : Seuil, 1961.Moi, laminaire . . . Paris : Seuil, 1982. Drama:Et les chiens se taisaient. Paris : Presence Africaine, 1956.Une Tempete. Paris : Seuil, 1969.La Tragedie du roi Christophe. Paris : Presence Africaine, 1970.Une Saison au Congo. Paris : Seuil, 1974.
Works Cited
Cesaire, Aime. Lyric and Dramatic Poetry 1946-82. Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith,trans. Charlottesville : Univ. Press of VA, 1990.Davis, Gregson. Aime Cesaire. United Kingdom : Cambridge Univ. Press, 1997.Neufeldt, Victoria, ed. Webster's New World College Dictionary. New York : Macmillan,1996. Author: Brooke Ritz, Spring 1999 
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