Notebook of a Return to the Native Land / Edition 1

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Overview

Aimé Césaire's masterpiece, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, is a work of immense cultural significance and beauty. The long poem was the beginning of Césaire's quest for négritude, and it became an anthem of Blacks around the world. With its emphasis on unusual juxtapositions of object and metaphor, manipulation of language into puns and neologisms, and rhythm, Césaire considered his style a "beneficial madness" that could "break into the forbidden" and reach the powerful and overlooked aspects of black culture.

Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith achieve a laudable adaptation of Césaire's work to English by clarifying double meanings, stretching syntax, and finding equivalent English puns, all while remaining remarkably true to the French text. Their treatment of the poetry is marked with imagination, vigor, and accuracy that will clarify difficulties for those already familiar with French, and make the work accessible to those who are not. André Breton's introduction, A Great Black Poet, situates the text and provides a moving tribute to Césaire.

Notebook of a Return to the Native Land is recommended for readers in comparative literature, post-colonial literature, African American studies, poetry, modernism, and French.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Aimé Césaire's brooding exploration of Negritude bristles with the energetic, unique qualities of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" . . . [Cesaire's] protean lyric, filled with historical allusions, serves to exorcise individual and collective self-hatreds engendered by the psychological trauma of slavery and its aftermath." —San Francisco Chronicle

“The greatest living poet in the French language."—American Book Review

“One of the most powerful French poets of the century.”—New York Times Book Review

“Martinique poet Aime Cesaire is one of the few pure surrealists alive today. By this I mean that his work has never compromised its wild universe of double meanings, stretched syntax, and unexpected imagery. This long poem was written at the end of World War II and became an anthem for many blacks around the world. Eshleman and Smith have revised their original 1983 translations and given it additional power by presenting Cesaire’s unique voice as testament to a world reduced in size by catastrophic events.”
—Bloomsbury Review

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780819564528
  • Publisher: Wesleyan University Press
  • Publication date: 9/24/2001
  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 100
  • Sales rank: 364,458
  • Product dimensions: 5.40 (w) x 8.40 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Aimé Césaire is most well-known as the co-creator (with Léopold Senghor) of the concept of négritude. A member of the Communist party and active supporter of a progressive Socialist movement in his native Martinique, Césaire wrote Notebook of a Return to the Native Land at the end of World War II. Clayton Eshleman, Professor of English at Eastern Michigan University, has published eleven books of poetry since 1968. He has translated works by Antonin Artaud, Bernard Bador, Michel Deguy, Vladimir Holan, and Pablo Neruda. He is also the foremost American translator of César Vallejo (with José Rubia Barcia). Annette Smith, born in Algeria, is an Associate Professor of French at the California Institute of Technology. Eshleman and Smith translated Aimé Césaire: The Collected Poetry (1985).
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Table of Contents

Introduction by A. James Arnold
Cahier d’un retour au pays natal
Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
Cesaire’s Cahier in Translation by A. James Arnold
Chronology
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