This analysis shows the affinity between the concept of essayism and the project of créolisation undertaken by Patrick Chamoiseau and other Martinican writers. By translating the essayistic spirit—the will to assay, to try, to attempt, or to strive—to a non-European context, Chamoiseau and his fellow writers overhaul the form and stealthily undo assumptions about what the essay can or cannot accomplish. Through examples from Eloge de la créolité, by Chamoiseau, Jean Bernabé, and Raphaël Confiant; Edouard Glissant’s Poétique de la Relation and Philosophie de la Relation; and Chamoiseau’s epic novel Biblique des derniers gestes, this study demonstrates how Chamoiseau and his larger cultural project accord perfectly with the essayistic and how his translation of the genre reveals as-of-yet unexploited stylistic and modal alternatives to Montaigne’s original project. These examples all point toward vibrant prospects for essayistic fiction in the Caribbean and represent a productive appropriation and transformation of what is often considered a deeply rooted European form.


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pp. 35-62
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