Corps perdu (1950)
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CORPS PERDU 477 LOST BODY The original edition of Corps perdu was published by Éditions Fragrance in June 1950. A limited edition art book of 219 copies signed by both the poet and the artist, it was sold exclusively to wealthy collectors. Picasso contributed thirty-two engravings to the richly illustrated volume of 127 pages with his “Tête de nègre” on the cover. George Braziller published the Picasso illustrations with Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith’s translation of the 1976 revised text in Lost Body (1986). Césaire met Picasso through their mutual friends Michel Leiris and Wifredo Lam. Since both participated in the Wroclaw (Poland) conference in 1948 and the meeting of French intellectuals for peace in 1949, it has been assumed that their collaboration dates from this period (EAC1, 192). Lost Body must have been written very quickly after completion of Solar Throat Slashed. Apart from the poem “Longitude,” which originated as a fragment of a longer text in Tropiques in 1942, no previous state of the other nine poems has been found. In 1950, Césaire articulated a heroic Martinican and Caribbean vision of negritude that he revised a decade later for Cadastre (1961) in a pan-African perspective. Pierre Laforgue makes the point that the 1950 text is contemporaneous with the first edition of the Discourse on Colonialism, published the same year by a Communist party affiliate. “Both texts proclaim a triumphant negritude of which Césaire is the herald, defining himself in ‘Longitude’ as a ‘dynamite pilgrim’ and declaring ‘ah you will not keep me from speaking I who / profess to displease you’” (PTED, 482). Clayton Eshleman has observed that “the ten poems in Lost Body thematically interlock in a fugal manner—in fact, their unity of style and tonal similarity make them read like sections of a single ‘serial poem’. . . . Psychologically, in Lost Body Césaire is struggling with the erosion of his heroic, fiery, and phallic aspects, with the challenge of time, distance, and the instability of Eros, as well as with an anguished Saturnian suspicion that his condition cannot be explained by colonialism but is somehow a part of nature itself” (CLB, xii, xiii). It is paradoxical that this very readable collection remained inaccessible to the general public in its original form until publication of Césaire’s Poésie, Théâtre, Essais et Discours in 2014. 478 Nègre nègre nègre depuis le fond du ciel immémorial… 479 Nigger nigger nigger from the depths of the timeless sky. . . ...

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