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Aimé Césaire (1913 - )


Aimé Fernand David Césaire (born June 20, 1913 in Basse-Pointe, Martinique) is a Martiniquen poet and politician.

In 1945, he was elected legislative Assembly member from Martinique, as a member of the Communist party. Later that year he was elected mayor of Fort-de-France. Aimé Césaire remains one of the most famous black contemporary writers. His writings reflect his passion for civic and social engagement. He is the author of a famous Discours sur le colonialisme (1950) first published in the French review Présence Africaine. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aim%E9_C%E9saire [May 2005]


Aime Cesaire was born in 1913 in Martinique in the French Caribbean. He left for Paris in 1931 at the age of 18 with a scholarship for school. During his time at the Lycee Louis-le Grand, he helped found a student publication, Etudiant Noir. In 1936 Cesaire started working on his famed piece "Cahier" which was not published until 1939. He married fellow student Suzanne Roussi in 1937, and the couple moved back to Martinique with their son in 1939. Both Aime and Suzanne got jobs at the Lycee Schoelcher. In 1945 Cesaire began his political career when he was elected mayor of Fort-de-France and deputy in the Constituent Assembly on the French Communist Party ticket. During the 1940s, Cesaire was busy writing and publishing many collections of his work. He seemed to be influenced by art because he wrote a tribute to a painter named Wilfredo Lam and one of his collections has illustrations by Pablo Picasso (Cesaire xxxviii). In 1956 Aime Cesaire resigned from the French Communist Party and two years later he began the "Parti Progressiste Martiniquais." During these years Cesaire attended two conferences for "Negro Writers and Artists" in Paris. In 1968 he published the first version of Une Tempete, "a radical adaptation of Shakespeare's play The Tempest" (Davis xvi). He continued on with his writings of poetry and plays and retired from politics in 1993. All of Cesaire's writings are in French with a limited number having English translations. -- http://www.emory.edu/ENGLISH/Bahri/Cesaire.html

Marcus Garvey

The work of another Caribbean, Marcus Garvey, though unknown to Cesaire in 1939, prefigures the concept of Negritude in more than one respect. Garvey's critique of an assimilationist black middle class announces that of French Antilleans such as Lero and Cesaire, while his revalorization of African culture is similar to both Cesaire's and Senghor's subsequent development of Negritude. "Negroes," Garvey implored, "teach your children that they are direct descendants of the greatest and proudest race who ever peopled the earth." In 1933 the Jamaican Leonard Percival Howell founded the Rastafarian movement, striving to "construct the black race economically, the better to serve God." Elsewhere in the Caribbean, Cuban poets allied with the Revista de Estudios Afrocubanos, and Nicolas Guill*n in particular, along with the Cuban painter Wifredo Lam, sought to explore and valorize their African heritage. - Nick Nesbitt [...]

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