CONFLICT AND CONQUEST IN THE POETRY OF AIME CESAIRE: POLITICAL LIMITATIONS AND POETIC UNIVERSALITY (MARTINIQUE)

MAUREEN FONSECA, Fordham University

Abstract

This dissertation establishes the fundamental unity of Cesaire's spirit and quest, both as poet and politician. Both his poetic and political action are shown to be branches of the same humanist and universal spirit of the man. We will examine the conflict of the poetic persona and his conquest of the integral self, the nature of his revolt and the revolution he envisaged. His struggle for his people is defined in terms of a "combat spirituel" against psychological alienation and cultural assimilation. The conflict is not primarily against an external enemy but entails the inner transformation of the individual and the revivification of the spirit of man.^ The first chapter provides an overview of Cesaire's life, examining the personal, literary and political influences on him and bringing into focus the essential unicity of the man. The second chapter presents in greater detail the literary and philosophical influences through the study of his poetic esthetic and reveals Cesaire's faith in poetry to reintegrate and restore the crushed and wilted spirit not only of the Antillean, but of modern man. This chapter provides the key to the interpretation of certain images that are relevant to the analysis of the poetic persona, his spiritual rebirth and the nature of his revolt.^ Chapters III, IV, and VII trace the evolution of the poetic persona, analyzing the various poeticizations of the conflict involved in the poet's personal disalienation and his ultimate conquest of the self. The study of the poetic 'moi' leads inevitably to the 'nous' since the poet's commitment to the collective rebirth of his people is an inalienable aspect of his quest. The study of recurring themes and imagery also unveils the essential, unchanging core of the poet.^ Chapter V outlines Cesaire's long political career and examines his major politico-cultural writings in order to elucidate the humanist spirit of the man. The demystification of colonialist myths is shown to be central to the struggle of both poet and political polemicist. The rehumanization of man is at the heart of his conception of "le vrai humanisme universal," which his work, both poetic and political, has sought to foster. ^

Subject Area

Modern literature|Caribbean literature

Recommended Citation

FONSECA, MAUREEN, "CONFLICT AND CONQUEST IN THE POETRY OF AIME CESAIRE: POLITICAL LIMITATIONS AND POETIC UNIVERSALITY (MARTINIQUE)" (1986). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI8615724.
https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI8615724

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