Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean

Louise Hardwick

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ISBN: 9781846318412

Publication: April 4, 2013

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 24

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This book examines a major modern turn in Francophone Caribbean literature towards the récit d'enfance, or childhood memoir, and asks why this occurred post-1990, connecting texts to recent changes in public policy and education policy concerning the commemoration of slavery and colonialism both in France and at a global level (for example, the UNESCO project 'La Route de l'esclave', the 'loi Taubira' and the 'Comité pour la mémoire de l'esclavage'). Combining approaches from Postcolonial Theory, Psychoanalysis, Trauma Theory and Gender Studies, and positing recognition as a central concept of postcolonial literature, it draws attention to a neglected body of récits d'enfance by contemporary bestselling, prize-winning Francophone Caribbean authors Patrick Chamoiseau, Maryse Condé, Gisèle Pineau, Daniel Maximin, Raphaël Confiant and Dany Laferrière, while also offering new readings of texts by Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, Joseph Zobel, Françoise Ega, Michèle Lacrosil, Maurice Virassamy and Mayotte Capécia. The study proposes an innovative methodological paradigm with which to read postcolonial childhoods in a comparative framework from areas as diverse as the Caribbean, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and particularly the Haitian diaspora in North America.

Louise Hardwick is Reader in Francophone Postcolonial Studies at the University of Birmingham (UK), and Associate Fellow of Homerton College, University of Cambridge.

Acknowledgments Abbreviations Introduction: Childhood, Genre and the Scene of Recognition 1. The Emergence of a Tradition 2. Apples and Mimic Men: Patrick Chamoiseau’s 'Une Enfance créole' 3. The Poetics of Ethnicity in Raphaël Confiant’s 'Ravines du devant-jour' and 'Le Cahier de romances' 4. Alienation and Estrangement in Maryse Condé’s 'Le Cœur à rire et à pleurer' 5. Childhood, the Environment and Diaspora: Daniel Maximin’s 'Tu, c’est l’enfance' and Gisèle Pineau’s 'L’Exil selon Julia' 6. Thwarted Expectations? Stasis and Change in Haiti in Dany Laferrière’s 'L’Odeur du café' and 'Le Charme des après-midi sans fin' 7. Parental Paradigms and Gender Stereotypes Afterword Notes Bibliography Index

This well-researched and cogently written study makes a convincing argument for the significance of the récit d’enfance in discussions about Francophone Caribbean literature.

Sarah Barbour   New West Indian Guide

Hardwick’s discussion of intertextuality—both among writers and self-referential—and her contextualization of the childhood memoirs within their authors’ larger oeuvre are most illuminating...Hardwick’s book constitutes a significant contribution to Francophone Caribbean literary criticism.

Odile Ferly   L'Espirit Createur

Louise Hardwick’s excellent study is a most welcome contribution to the field ... With its beautiful style and pedagogical structure, it is a didactic masterpiece.
Christina Kullberg   Karib: Nordic Journal for Caribbean Studies

In an impressive series of close readings, Louise Hardwick analyses the genre of autobiographical childhood narratives ... These innovative readings constitute the volume’s tour de force: in inaugurating the critical field of récits d’enfance studies, it renews our approaches to Francophone Caribbean literature in general.
Malik Noël-Ferdinand   The Arts Journal: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Literature, History, Art and Culture of Guyana and the Caribbean
Université des Antilles-Guyane (French West Indies)

Hardwick offers new insight into the collective character of francophone recits d’enfance by Caribbean authors, demonstrating persuasively that the ongoing narrative impact of slavery cannot be elided.
  French Studies, Vol. 68, no 2

... a study that is a pleasure to read ... Hardwick's meticulous research, balanced approach and lucid prose merit serious consideration from specialists of the region.
Françoise Lionnet   Journal of Postcolonial Writing

Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean is the first book-length study of a remarkable literary phenomenon that emerged in the last decade of the twentieth century in the French Antilles and Haiti - the autobiographical narrative. Louise Hardwick expertly analyses this relatively understudied genre which uses childhood narrative in as much a politically as an aesthetically subversive manner. Her clear, meticulous and informed study reveals the ways in which these narratives of childhood, driven by a devoir de mémoire, relate individual memory to collective identity. This is a welcome critical work that makes a major contribution to francophone as well as to postcolonial literary studies.
J. Michael Dash  
New York University

Format: Hardback

Size: 239 × 163 mm

256 Pages

ISBN: 9781846318412

Publication: April 4, 2013

Series: Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 24

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