Esthetique et ethique de l'agentivite dans le roman antillais
Fonkoue, Ramon Abelin
This dissertation examines the intersection between aesthetics and politics in the French Caribbean novel. The major argument of this work is that French Caribbean novels pursue a political agenda. I contend that in this literature, unlike in that of any other part of the contemporary world, theoretical considerations take precedence over aesthetic concerns in writers' works. I call this an "aesthetics of rupture." Considering works by authors such as Aimé Césaire, Léon-Gontran Damas, Maryse Condé, Edouard Glissant, Patrick Chamoiseau, Daniel Maximin and Gisèle Pineau, I argue that only by looking beyond aesthetic innovations in these authors' texts, can we fully ascertain the significance of this politically committed literature. The first chapter discusses the relevance of the theoretical approach and the contribution this work brings to the field. The second chapter examines how West Indian writers use theoretical approaches to regain control over the metadiscourses applied to their works. The third chapter looks at Caribbean aesthetics as the product of writers' collective effort and of the dialogic nature of their texts. The fourth chapter analyses the question of the hero in the Caribbean novel and the fifth chapter discusses the crossing of politics and ethics in Caribbean writing. The last chapter addresses the post-Césaire era and the future of literary production in the French Caribbean. I contend that, preoccupied about the power of their writing to effect any real world change, Caribbean writers seem haunted by Fanon's call to engage in political action. The issue of ethics thus arises as a result of a dilemma born from the conflict between the subject's political agenda and his/her human values. The ethical question in this literature concerns the crossing of an ethical subjectivity with a political agenda. The first response to this quandary is a redefinition of the notion of the hero that departs from Western "vertical" heroism and promotes a "horizontal" heroism. In addition, through their novels, Caribbean writers distance themselves from a universal humanism to advocate for an "ethics of action" which locates its legitimacy in the urgency of political agency for their people.