Refusal Of The Shadow / Edition 1

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In 1932, at the peak of French colonialism, a group of Martiniquan students at the Sorbonne established a Caribbean Surrealist Group, and published a single issue of a journal called Légitime défense. Immediately banned by the authorities, it passed almost unnoticed at the time. Yet it began a remarkable series of debates between surrealism and Caribbean intellectuals that had a profound impact on the struggle for cultural identity. In the next two decades these exchanges greatly influenced the evolution of the concept of negritude, initiated revolution in Haiti in 1946, and crucially affected the development of surrealism itself.

This fascinating book presents a series of key texts—most of them never before translated into English—which reveal the complexity of this relationship between black anti-colonialist movements in the Caribbean and the most radical of the European avant-gardes. Included are René Ménil’s subtle philosophical essays and the fierce polemics of Aimé and Suzanne Césaire, appreciations of surrealism by Haitian writers, lyrical evocations of the Caribbean by André Breton and André Masson, and rich explorations of Haiti and voodoo religion by Pierre Mabille and Michel Leiris.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“The Surrealists’ absolute refusal to accommodate themselves to the values of colonial Europe aroused the admiration of poets and intellectuals in the French-speaking Caribbean who were leading the resistance to political and cultural suppression. Their encounters are brought vividly to life in these texts by writers whose candid and often fierce debates ... are no less relevant today than they were then.”—Professor Dawn Ades, University of Essex

Refusal of the Shadow offers a powerful reminder that there is still much to learn about the complexities of colonialism and its political and cultural negation. There can be no doubt that this invaluable anthology will transform how surrealism is understood. Beyond that, it commands attention for placing Caribbean sensibilities back at the centre of European accounts of modernism’s unfolding.”—Professor Paul Gilroy, author of The Black Atlantic

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781859840184
  • Publisher: Verso Books
  • Publication date: 5/17/1996
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 302
  • Product dimensions: 5.95 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.65 (d)

Table of Contents

Translators' Note
Introduction 1
1978 Introduction to Legitime defense 37
Legitime defense: Declaration 41
Note Bearing on the Coloured French Bourgeoisie 44
Heaven on Earth 47
General Observations about the Coloured 'Writer' in the Caribbean 50
Civilization 54
Poverty of a Poetry 55
On Certain Common Characteristics of the Civilized Mentality 59
For a Critical Reading of Tropiques 69
Panorama 79
Leo Frobenius and the Problem of Civilizations 82
Presentation 88
Introduction to the Marvellous 89
A Civilization's Discontent 96
An Introduction to Martiniquan Folklore 101
Birth of Our Art 105
Orientation of Poetry 112
Calling the Magician: A Few Words for a Caribbean Civilization 119
1943: Surrealism and Us 123
The Situation of Poetry in the Caribbean 127
Poetry and Knowledge 134
Evidence Concerning the Mind and Its Speed 147
Lightning Effect 153
The Great Camouflage 156
Humour: Introduction to 1945 162
Concerning Colonial Exoticism 176
Creole Dialogue 185
A Great Black Poet: Aime Cesaire 191
The Jungle 199
At Night in Haiti 213
Andre Breton in Haiti 217
Andre Breton in Port-au-Prince 229
A Record about Surrealism 234
Surrealism: What It Is 236
Letter to the Old Men 237
Extract from a Letter to Monny de Bouilly 241
Memories of Haiti 243
The Haitian Panorama 254
The Loas Speaking in Govis: Sorcery and Clairvoyance in Voodoo Religion 256
The Sacrifice of a Bull at the Home of the Houngan Jo Pierre-Gilles 263
Biographical Notes 277
Bibliography 281
Index 285
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