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HUMANITIES 247 That is of course what the great goddess Dulness prefers; she likes the dark and this kind of film criticism can only keep us there. Scott can do better, and I hope that he will eventually break the faith and perhaps give Canada its first worthy criticism in the field of popular film reviewing. (GINO MATTEO) Frederick Ivor Case. The Crisis of Identity: Studies in the Guadeloupean and Martiniquan Novel Editions Naaman. 192 In this introduction Case sets out the criteria for the choice of the three authors selected for detailed study, namely the aesthetic value of their novels, ideological coherence, illustration of the philosophical notion of the absurd and of the socio-economic theory of alienation, and expression of preoccupations that go beyond the French-speaking Caribbean. The absurd is defined as 'the barrier that exists between the legitimate social, psychological, psychic, and philosophicaspirations ofa human beingand the incoherence with which that human is faced.' Alienation refers to 'socioeconomic, cultural or psychic divorce from one's context ... an absence of identification with the collective consciousness of one's particular sociocultural group, a retreat into the Self or a fleeing from the Self.' Although the novels of Michele Lacrosil, Edouard Glissant and Simone Schwarz-Bart constitute the main focus of the book, there are many references to other Caribbean, African, and Afro-American novels that reveal similar aesthetic, ideological or philosophical concerns. In the opening chapter Case defines his use of the term'social realism.' Realism is presented as 'the literary representation of social institutions which determine and govern human relationships.' Social realism, it is argued, cannot be defined simply in terms of the literary structure or in terms of the verisimilitude of the physical and psychological descriptions; it is expressed through descriptive writing as well as through myth, allegory and the fantastic. Chapter 2, entitled 'The Obsession with Suicide: A Study of the Works of Michele Lacrosil: shows how Lacrosil portrays her protagonists as attempting to escape from their social enviroments and from their very being. Among the devices effectively used by Lacrosil are physical and psychological enclosure, the mirror image and experimentation with the narrative voice. Chapter 3, the longest, is entitled 'Aesthetics and Social Consciousness : Glissant's literary experiment.' Case shows how Glissan!'s work reflects a fascination with historical detail and process, his characters being drawn from Caribbean plantation society and its historical sequel. Glissant's four novels'demonstrate that the individual is in a permanent state of alienation from his psychic context. This psychic context is not necessarily the world of spirits but it is a domain of deep, conscious communication among individuals united by common aspirations and a common Weltanschauung.' They also reflect a careful analysis of the concept of time in the world of the slaves and the colonized, as well as varied use of the narrative voice and symbols of consciousness, such as the river and the sea, roads and paths. The final chapter, 'In the grips of misery and the absurd: the nihilism of Simone Schwarz-Bart,' demonstrates how in the novels of Schwarz-Bart the socio-economicenvironmentshuts outall possibilityofself-realization for Blacks, who are forced to live in a closed world from which there is no escape. Though individuals have the ability to react against the absurd, society appears unable to free itself from its shackles. The source of distress appears to be found mostly in the hearts of her characters and in the institutions that stifle them. Case also analyses the symbols, such as water and veil, which Schwarz-Bart uses as the literary expression of philosophical concepts. The conclusion includes an interesting analysis of how each of these three writers altemps to mould the French language - Lacrosil 'within the limits ofFrench syntax as a vehicle ofa certain well-defined system oflogic and symbolism,' Glissant as the'spiritualand literary heir ofCesaire in his experimentation with the French language and its sematic adaptation to Caribbean realities,' Schwarz-Bart by refashioning 'the very symbolic structure of which the European language is the vehicle.' Given the mutually impenetrable wall that often seems to separate anglophone and francophone literature from Africa and the Caribbean, this study serves as a valuable bridge...


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pp. 247-248
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