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Seeing eye-to-eye in Chamoiseau's L'esclave vieil homme et le molosse: a chiasm of evolving animal-man dialectics

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This article explores the evolving definitions of animality, humanity, non-animality and non-humanity in Patrick Chamoiseau's L'esclave vieil homme et le molosse (1997). A chiastic representation of the novella illustrates how the slave and the molosse co-identify on the plantation, how the hunt in the Grands-bois develops the slave's humanity and denies the molosse of his animality and, overall, how Chamoiseau rejects traditional dichotomies between animal and man. By means of a critical lens shaped by Jacques Derrida, Giorgio Agamben and Georg Hegel, this article analyzes how Chamoiseau evokes eye-to-eye confrontation between man and animal in order to subvert the traditional relationship between hunting dog and slave within plantation culture. L'esclave vieil homme et le molosse serves to suggest the paradoxical importance of postcolonial Caribbean literature to the emerging field of animal studies; within this space of subjugation and exploitation, a new, truer definition of humanity is affirmed.

Keywords: Caribbean; Chamoiseau; animal studies; animality; canine warfare; slavery; vision

Document Type: Research Article


Affiliations: University of Pennsylvania

Publication date: August 13, 2012

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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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