Thursday, 3 February 2011

A Giant Falls

Caribbean theorist, poet and novelist, Edouard Glissant has passed away today in Paris at the age of 82. He had been ill for a long time, but his death comes as a sad and sudden shock to me. I never knew him personally, but I have seen him speak and I know his work. His name is synonymous with contemporary Caribbean studies. This is a HUGE loss. 

Kevin Meehan's obituary from Le Monde:
Eloquent defender of diversity and métissage, the great Caribbean writer Edouard Glissant died on February 3 in Paris, at the age of 82. Poet, novelist, essayist, playwright, thinker, [and exponent of the concept of] creolization, he was born in Sainte-Marie (Martinique) on September 21, 1928 and conducted studies in Philosophy and Ethnology in Paris.
His success upon winning the Prix Renaudot in 1958 for his novel La Lézarde made the general public aware of this intellectual, who never separated his literary creation from a militant reflection. Influenced by the philosophy of Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, he construed the history and geography of the Caribbean politically, demonstrating his revolt against racisms of any type and evoking the indelible mark of slavery on the relationship between France and Africa and all overseas territories.
Opposing any imposed systems and any rejection of the other, Edouard Glissant has been champion of métissage and exchange, formulating in his essays gathered in the “Poétique” series his theses on Philosophie de la relation [philosophy of relation] andPoétique du divers the [poetics of the diverse]. He refused to be constrained by single genre, moving constantly between the novel, essay, and poetry, even within a single work.
Novels Directed towards the Imaginary
Edouard Glissant, who shared at once a respectful and conflicting relationship with Aimé Césaire, the other great personality of the Caribbean world, also expressed his concern for literary parentage, through writers and “disciples” [I would rather translate this as supporting scholars] such as Patrick Chamoiseau, Raphaël Confiant, or Ernest Pépin.
His novels, from Quatrième siècle (Seuil 1965) to Ormerod (Gallimard 2003), are geared towards a mythical and imaginary world, far from any naturalism, but also imbued with picturesque elements specific to certain Caribbean novelists.
After having created a center for research and teaching in Martinique, as well as a review named Acoma, Edouard Glissant founded in Paris the Institut du Tout-monde, aimed at putting into practice his humanistic principles and to allowing for the dissemination of “the extraordinary diversity of the imaginaries of the people.”


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