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Aime Cesaire's masterpiece, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, is a work of immense cultural significance and beauty. The long poem was the beginning of Cesaire's quest for negritude, and it became an anthem of Blacks around the world. With its emphasis on unusual juxtapositions of object and metaphor, manipulation of language into puns and neologisms, and rhythm, Cesaire considered his style a "beneficial madness" that could "break into the forbidden" and reach the powerful and overlooked aspects of black culture.

Clayton Eshleman and Annette Smith achieve a laudable adaptation of Cesaire's work to English by clarifying double meanings, stretching syntax, and finding equivalent English puns, all while remaining remarkably true to the French text. Their treatment of the poetry is marked with imagination, vigor, and accuracy that will clarify difficulties for those already familiar with French, and make the work accessible to those who are not. Andre Breton's introduction, A Great Black Poet, situates the text and provides a moving tribute to Cesaire.

Notebook of a Return to the Native Land is recommended for readers in comparative literature, post-colonial literature, African American studies, poetry, modernism, and French.
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About the Author

Aime Cesaire is most well-known as the co-creator (with Leopold Senghor) of the concept of negritude. A member of the Communist party and active supporter of a progressive Socialist movement in his native Martinique, Cesaire wrote Notebook of a Return to the Native Land at the end of World War II. Clayton Eshleman, Professor of English at Eastern Michigan University, has published eleven books of poetry since 1968. He has translated works by Antonin Artaud, Bernard Bador, Michel Deguy, Vladimir Holan, and Pablo Neruda. He is also the foremost American translator of Cesar Vallejo (with Jose Rubia Barcia). Annette Smith, born in Algeria, is an Associate Professor of French at the California Institute of Technology. Eshleman and Smith translated Aime Cesaire: The Collected Poetry (1985).

Reviews

San Francisco Chronicle" American Book Review" New York Times Book Review" "Aim C saire's brooding exploration of Negritude bristles with the energetic, unique qualities of Walt Whitman's "Song of Myself" . . . [Cesaire's] protean lyric, filled with historical allusions, serves to exorcise individual and collective self-hatreds engendered by the psychological trauma of slavery and its aftermath." "San Francisco Chronicle"" "Aime Cesaire's brooding exploration of Negritude bristles with the energetic, unique qualities of Walt Whitman's 'Song of Myself' . . . [Cesaire's] protean lyric, filled with historical allusions, serves to exorcise individual and collective self-hatreds engendered by the psychological trauma of slavery and its aftermath."-- "San Francisco Chronicle" "The greatest living poet in the French language."-- "American Book Review" "One of the most powerful French poets of the century."-- "The New York Times Book Review" "Martinique poet Aime Cesaire is one of the few pure surrealists alive today. By this I mean that his work has never compromised its wild universe of double meanings, stretched syntax, and unexpected imagery. This long poem was written at the end of World War II and became an anthem for many blacks around the world. Eshleman and Smith have revised their original 1983 translations and given it additional power by presenting Cesaire's unique voice as testament to a world reduced in size by catastrophic events."-- "Bloomsbury Review" "This long poem, which shook the French literary world in 1939, examines the ways home is ruptured--or even prevented from existing--by colonialism. And what, the book asks, does that mean? How can one return to a home that was never built?"--Robin Coste Lewis, The Week Martinique poet Aime Cesaire is one of the few pure surrealists alive today. By this I mean that his work has never compromised its wild universe of double meanings, stretched syntax, and unexpected imagery. This long poem was written at the end of World War II and became an anthem for many blacks around the world. Eshleman and Smith have revised their original 1983 translations and given it additional power by presenting Cesaire s unique voice as testament to a world reduced in size by catastrophic events. Bloomsbury Review" One of the most powerful French poets of the century. The New York Times Book Review" The greatest living poet in the French language." American Book Review" Aime Cesaire s brooding exploration of Negritude bristles with the energetic, unique qualities of Walt Whitman s Song of Myself . . . [Cesaire s] protean lyric, filled with historical allusions, serves to exorcise individual and collective self-hatreds engendered by the psychological trauma of slavery and its aftermath. San Francisco Chronicle"

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