Negritude-as-performance: The interplay of efficacious and inefficacious speech acts in Cahier d'un retour au pays natal


Journal Article

This essay adumbrates a way of reading Cahier d'un retour au pays natal that understands it as an enactment of the poet's idiosyncratic conception of Negritude. Through the crucible of performance, Césairean Negritude is revealed as a complex process of self-exploration. "Performance" is employed here not merely in its figurative sense (though dramaturgical tropes will be considered in the course of analysis), but in its more robust signification as a series of speech acts-some self-fulfilling, some manqués - that constitute the Césairean inflection of Negritude. The performance of Negritude that takes place in the poem mimics the process of "illumination" or enlightenment that follows in the wake of rigorous self-examination. The delineation of the major ways in which the speaker inscribes the process of identity refashioning through performance is the basis for a revisionist interpretation of the fundamental meaning(s) of the term for its acknowledged inventor. © 2010.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Davis, G

Published Date

  • February 16, 2010

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 41 / 1

Start / End Page

  • 142 - 154

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1527-2044

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0034-5210

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.2979/RAL.2010.41.1.142

Citation Source

  • Scopus