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L'Esprit Créateur by (neo)colonialism—so that writers from the French Caribbean are best understood from a dialectical perspective in which the present contains the possibility of its own negation, a possibility which is embodied in the aesthetic construction of historical experience. The theoretical framework of the book is thus Hegelian and humanist Marxist; rather than the more prevalent postmodernist canon, the principal references here are Hegel, Kojève, Lukács, Adorno, Benjamin , and Marcuse. The introduction describes the erasure and subsequent commodification of communal memory in the French Antilles, and then presents the philosophical concepts that will inform the subsequent discussion. Chapter 1 traces the history of representations of Louis Delgrès from immediately after the revolt he led in 1802 to the present day. The next three chapters are devoted to Césaire: the Cahier d'un retour au pays natal and négritude, his participation in Présence africaine and his Bourdieu-esque positioning of himself as the leading black intellectual of the period, and La Tragédie du roi Christophe in the context of African decolonization. Chapter 5 analyses the role of jazz in Maximin's L'Isolé soleil and L'Ile et une nuit as not merely thematic but determining structural parallels in combining improvisation with relationship to an existing tradition. Chapter 6 discusses Glissant's conception of historical totality, equating 'Relation' with dialectical consciousness and arguing that the modernist thrust of his early work persists in the concept of the 'Tout-monde'. The final chapter is devoted to Condé and Danticat, both of whom exemplify the potential for an emancipatory aesthetic response to the violence and oppression of Caribbean society. The strengths of Nesbitt's approach are his solid historical research and his unfashionable commitment to a dialectical vision, which produces powerful new readings of some major texts. His analysis of La Tragédie du roi Christophe in conjunction with the Phenomenology of Spirit, and of the hitherto largely neglected Hegelian influence on Glissant's thought are particularly valuable. Not all his textual interpretations are convincing, and the philosophical framework sometimes results in a rather unbalanced view of the text in question; his book is not a useful introduction to French Caribbean literature, but it is a stimulating and illuminating reconceptualization of the field. Celia Britton University College London Charles J. Stivale. Disenchanting les Bons Temps: Identity and Authenticity in Cajun Music and Dance. Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2003. Pp. xiv + 217. This book examines the conflicting forces and processes at work within Cajun cultural practices , specifically, Cajun music, song lyrics, and dance. It brings together voices from within the Cajun world, voices from without, and, most especially, voices from in-between, the loudest and clearest of which is the author's own voice, which benefits at once from a critical savvy (Stivale ranks among the best informed and eclectic scholars in the business), a personal passion (as a dancing and spectating fan of Cajun music and dance), and a keen interest to locate "the hybrid inbetweenness " of Cajun cultural practice. Through an approach that is itself hybrid and in-between the disciplines of critical theory (especially Deleuze and Guattari, but also Nora, Bakhtin, et al.), cultural studies, and popular culture, Stivale argues skillfully that Cajun culture is in-between the enchantment and the disenchantment of its myth. On one hand the voices from within the culture, through their song and dance practices, declare an abandonment to the pleasure principle (laissez les bons temps rouler), and on the other they disenchant the free spirit of the culture by staging its identity and authenticity and by regulating, manipulating, and enforcing its continuity. An avowed interest in Cajun culture is not a prerequisite for enjoying and learning from this book. It expands the reader's critical understanding of the paradoxes of cultural constructs and the borders between them, while masterfully guiding the reader through some difficult critical territory , systematically resituating, and reinforcing its major arguments. 100 Winter 2004 Book Reviews The introduction and first chapter ("Becoming-Cajun") lay the groundwork for Stivale's blossoming interest in the topic, and they situate the key concepts of identity, authenticity, enchantment and disenchantment in relation to...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1931-0234
Print ISSN
0014-0767
Pages
pp. 100-101
Launched on MUSE
2010-06-24
Open Access
No
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