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xiii CHRONOLOGY 1913‑1924: Early life in contact with Martinique’s plantation economy •  On June 26, 1913, Aimé Césaire was born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, the second of seven children, to Fernand (1888‑1966) and Éléonore Hermine (1885‑1983). Fernand was then a plantation steward. •  During his elementary school years (1918‑24) in Basse-Pointe, Aimé and his siblings had their homework supervised by their paternal grandmother, whose African traits they associated with the Jola people of Senegal. Fernand read the French classics aloud to his children. 1924‑1931: From middle through secondary school, Aimé excelled at the Lycée Schoelcher in Fort-de-France, where Fernand had become a civil servant in the colonial tax department. Aimé’s geography and English teachers noticed his exceptional promise. His friendship with L. G. Damas, from French Guiana, dates from this period. •  On May 6, 1931, the Paris Colonial Exposition opened in the Parc de Vincennes. During its six-month run between 7 and 9 million visitors enjoyed “natives” in traditional costume demonstrating typical occupations in human zoos. 1931‑1935: A competitive scholarship allowed Aimé to prepare for the École Normale Supérieure at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand in Paris. There, he met L. S. Senghor from Senegal, who was several years his senior; their friendship lasted until Senghor’s death in 2001. Memorable teachers were A. Bayet (French and Latin) and R. Le Senne, whose courses in philosophy stressed an idealist dialectic. •  In 1935, the tricentennial celebration of colonial status in the French West Indies included special editions of magazines and commemorative postage stamps. Local celebrations by the Catholic Church reinforced the legitimacy of colonial rule. Frequent references to “300 years” in Césaire’s poetry allude to these events. •  In February 1935, Césaire published “L’Étudiant noir” in L’Étudiant martiniquais, praising Imagination and Nature at the expense of Reason xiv Chronology and Culture. The title of the mimeographed student paper was changed to L’Étudiant noir the following month. Césaire, as new editor, had preferred L’Étudiant nègre, which was overruled as too aggressive. •  In March, his “Nègreries: Jeunesse noire et assimilation” in the first issue of L’Étudiant noir stressed the danger to “assimilated” black students by the rising tide of fascism in France. •  In the May-June issue, his “Nègreries: Conscience raciale et révolution sociale” for the first time used négritude to express an ethnic ideal: “to plant our negritude like a beautiful tree until it shall bear its most authentic fruits.” •  In the same issue, Césaire translated Richard Wright’s “I Have Seen Black Hands” and Sterling Brown’s “Strong Men.” 1935‑1939: Césaire succeeded against general expectation in the entrance examination for the École Normale Supérieure (ENS) but experienced exhaustion and depression over the summer, which he spent with Petar Guberina on the Adriatic coast of Croatia. View of the island of Martiniska triggered memories of home that Césaire began to transfer to a notebook. •  On October 2, 1935, Italy announced its intention to invade Ethiopia, the only independent African state. •  At the ENS, Césaire revolted against intellectual cramming and began writing as therapy. Several friends considered him depressed during this period. •  On May 3, 1936, Léon Blum of the French Section of the Workers International (S.F.I.O.) was elected Prime Minister; first paid vacations for French workers. •  Summer 1936: Césaire returned to Martinique for the first time in five years. •  1937: On July 10, Aimé Césaire and Suzanne Roussi were married in the city hall of Paris’s 13th arrondissement. Their first son, Jacques, was born the following year. •  1939: Césaire failed the competitive agrégation exam but completed an advanced studies diploma (D.E.S.) on the Role of the South in Black Literature in the United States. •  On July 18, Césaire received a military deferment, presumably on grounds of health; soon thereafter he was named professor in the Lycée Schoelcher. Chronology xv •  In late August, the Césaires returned to Martinique; Suzanne was pregnant with their second son, Jean-Paul. Francis was born in 1941, Ina in 1942, Marc in 1948, and Michèle in 1951. •  On September 1, Hitler invaded Poland; two days later France and England declared war on Germany. •  On September 14, Admiral Paul Robert arrived in Martinique as commandant of France’s Western Atlantic theater of war. After the fall of France in June...


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