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Patrick Chamoiseau's Creole Conteur and the ethics of survival

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Abstract:

This article concerns the Creole Conteur in Patrick Chamoiseau's depictions of the slave plantation in Au temps de l'antan (1988a), crire en pays domin (1997) and Texaco (1992). It proposes that Chamoiseau's vision of the plantation be seen as a parable for contemporary Martinique, one that seeks to reinstate a redemptive history in which the past has a positive claim on the present. The article examines the tensions internal to this recuperative attempt, especially those carried in the relationship between literal and spiritual forms of hunger: the slaves' famine condition and the survival tactics of dbrouillardise compete with the spiritual nourishment found in an emergent collective identity. The article demonstrates that Chamoiseau uses the Conteur to redraw the symbolic boundaries of the plantation from an amoral grey zone to a cohesive Creole social order, making the plantation past relevant to the present day. It explores how Chamoiseau preserves the parable's frame of moral instruction even though, as a survival tale involving extreme duress, it involves a calculus beyond good and evil.

Keywords: Au temps de l'antan; Chamoiseau; Creole; Ecrire en pays domin; Texaco; folk tale; hunger; storyteller

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1386/ijfs.13.1.39/1

Affiliations: University of California.

Publication date: June 1, 2010

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  • The International Journal of Francophone Studies offers a critical preview for a new development in the understanding of 'France outside France', with a thorough insight into the network of disciplinary issues affiliated with this study. The journal complements the thriving area of scholarly interest in the French-speaking regions of the world, bringing a location of linguistic, cultural, historical and social dynamics within a single academic arena.
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