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Volume 52 / Humanities

LITERATURE: FRENCH AND ENGLISH WEST INDIES AND THE GUIANAS


ETHEL O. DAVIE, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, West Virginia State College
NAOMI M. GARRETT, Professor Emeritus, West Virginia State College

THERE HAS BEEN A CONSIDERABLE EXPANSION of literature from the French and English West Indies and The Guianas during this biennium, with the bulk of this increase being produced in French-speaking areas.

Prose fiction, particularly novels, led all genres in Haiti and Martinique. These novels treat mainly historical events, current social and political problems, and the writers' cultural backgrounds. While several established authors such as Edouard Glissant (item bi 89016094), Jean Métellus (items bi 92015382 and bi 89005223), René Depestre (item bi 89016522), and prolific popular writer Tony Delsham (items bi 89017035, bi 90004754, and bi 90004745) are represented, there are also a number of talented novices annotated below. It is worthy of note that the prestigious Prix Renaudot was awarded in 1988 to Depestre for his novel, Hadriana dans tous mes rêves (item bi 89016522). Prose production in English areas consists principally of short stories and one drama.

Collections of verse by major poets allow access to their important works. French poets are principally from the two islands previously cited, while English poetry in this HLAS represents a continuum from the Bahamas to Trinidad and Guyana. Small Anglophone islands add their contributions, some for the first time.

Heightened interest in Caribbean literature is indicated by the number of critical studies from several parts of the world. In recent years the region's writers have served as a fertile source for topics of study not only in the West Indies but in Europe and the US. Diverse critical studies are multilingual in expression and content: scholars deal simultaneously with writings from several different language areas and critics often write in languages other than their own. In this connection, special mention should be made of the report from the pluridisciplinary colloquium, La période révolutionnaire aux Antilles (item bi 90004759), which shows the reciprocal influence of the Haitian and French revolutions on literature and philosophical ideas on both sides of the Atlantic.

Much important research has been conducted on the theater (items bi 89005143 and bi 90004757), the Francophone novel, and major Caribbean authors. Whether writers should use European or indigenous languages remains a principal concern. Derek Walcott (item bi 89016100) was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1992.


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