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Volume 50 / Humanities

LITERATURE: FRENCH AND ENGLISH WEST INDIES AND THE GUIANAS


ETHEL O. DAVIE, Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs, West Virginia State College
NAOMI M. GARRETT, Professor Emeritus, West Virginia State College

RECENT PUBLICATIONS on the West Indies and The Guianas reveal a constant production of francophone literature but a decline in the anglophone. As a result, French poetry and prose fiction occupy most of this section; some critical studies are also included.

Most of the poets who appear in this volume are relatively new with two exceptions: Christophe Charles (items bi 89008242 and bi 89008243) and René Philoctête (item bi 89008260). Several of the new poets reveal genuine potential. Although Haitians, as usual, contributed the bulk of the poetry, Martinique and Guadeloupe are each represented by three volumes of verse.

The most discernible trend is in French prose fiction, which shows considerable concern for the life and conditions of rural and urban masses (items bi 89008222, bi 89008224, bi 89008226, bi 89008229, bi 89008231, and bi 89008235). In addition, there seems to be a tendency to reproduce the popular language used by the young elite and to portray the relaxing of social mores and class distinctions (items bi 89008225, bi 89008231, bi 89008232, bi 89008233, and bi 89008234). One of the most notable novels in this volume is Tracée sans horizon (item bi 89008229) by Tony Delsham of Martinique (see HLAS 48:6444 and HLAS 48:6445). Liza Perfey, also of Martinique (see HLAS 48:6450) presents her second novel emphasizing the lives and activities of young Martinicans (item bi 89008232).

Two anthologies of Haitian literature are annotated below: one is a reprint of an early classic (item bi 89008276), the other brings the literature up-to-date (item bi 89008275).

The inclusion of the Haitian René Depestre in the French Poètes d'aujourd'hui series (item bi 89008267) recognizes his importance as a major francophone poet.

Six dissertations on writers of the French West Indies appeared during this biennium: three from universities in France, two from the US and one from Canada.

The Centre d'étude sur la littérature africaine et caribéenne d'expression française (CELACEF), whose purpose is to promote and facilitate the study of francophone literature, began publishing a bulletin in 1987 at Temple University.

A conference on "Saint-Jean Perse: Antillanité et Universalité" was held at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, during the spring of 1987.

An English-language novel of interest, Frangipani House by Beryl Gilroy (item bi 89008279), introduces the subject of the treatment of elderly women in modern society.

There have been numerous studies of anglophone writers and their works. Papers presented at a conference on West Indian literature at the Cave Hill Campus of the Univ. of the West Indies treated a number of writers, with special emphasis on V.S. Naipaul (item bi 89008284). Fifty Caribbean writers, edited by Daryl Dance (item bi 89008286), presents comprehensive studies of a number of writers by serious scholars.

The English Dept. of the Univ. of the West Indies at Bridgetown, Barbados has just begun publication of its Journal of West Indian Literature containing articles on all aspects of works from the anglophone Caribbean.

Samuel Bandara's bibliography of theses and dissertations in English on fiction of the entire area (item bi 89008299) is a very useful source of information for researchers


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