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Daniel Orrells, Gurminder K. Bhambra, and Tessa Roynon

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199595006

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199595006.001.0001

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Dislocating Black Classicism

Dislocating Black Classicism

Classics and the Black Diaspora in the Poetry of Aimé Césaire and Kamau Brathwaite

(p.362) 21 Dislocating Black Classicism
African Athena

Emily Greenwood

Oxford University Press

This chapter examines the reception of Classics in the work Cahier d'un retour au pays natal by the Martinican poet Aimé Césaire, and compares Césaire's engagement with the cultures of Greece and Rome to that of the Barbadian poet Kamau Brathwaite. By comparing how these two Caribbean poets from different generations, the one Francophone, the other Anglophone, have used Classics in their expression of black cultural identities, the chapter reviews the concept of black classicism — the idea that there is a coherent reception of Classics in different black traditions. Rather than simply rejecting or affirming black classicism, it is argued that the idea of dislocation / dys‐location is central to Caribbean classical receptions, as authors attempt to relate the different black cultures which are present in the region.

Keywords:   Kamau Brathwaite, Aimé Césaire, Black Classicism, Cahier, classical reception

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