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.
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
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
April 4, 2013
Contemporary French and Francophone Cultures 24