Return to My Native Land
Aime Cesaire, John Berger, Anna Bostock
This book is scheduled to be published on 24/08/2023.
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‘We shall speak. We shall sing. We shall shout.’ This blazing autobiographical poem by the founder of the negritude movement became a rallying cry for decolonisation when it appeared in 1939. Following one man’s return from Europe to his homeland of Martinique, it is a reckoning with the trauma of slavery and exploitation, and a triumphant anthem for Black identity, one which reclaims and remakes language itself.
‘Nothing less than the greatest lyrical monument of this time’ Andre Breton
‘A Cesaire poem explodes and whirls about itself like a rocket, suns burst forth whirling and exploding’ Jean-Paul Sartre
‘The most influential Francophone Caribbean writer of his generation’ Independent
Nothing less than the greatest lyrical monument of this time -- Andre Breton 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 * One of the most powerful French poets of the century * New York Times Book Review * The poem pulls no punches. Now tremulous, now grating, the improvised text drums and jabs in spasmodic phrases and slogans. Each encounter, each twist of idiom, thrusts itself into the reader's mind as a fierce challenge to understand and to empathize -- Roger Cardinal * The Times Literary Supplement * A more razor-sharp encapsulation of the situation of African slavery could not be found * Quarterly Conversation * Edouard Glissant once wrote that everything begins with poetry. Aime Cesaire's epic poem was a true beginning in 1939... Return to my Native Land became the rallying cry of decolonization but the fact that it is still read means it has survived as poetry. This translation preserves its poetic force and its reissue is a welcome event -- J. Michael Dash, New York University Return to My Native Land is a monumental tome to our times, and this new translation by John Berger and Anya Bostock possesses the tropical heat of the poet's sonority. Though, in his refrain, Aime Cesaire intones "the small hours," there isn't anything small about the raw lyricism articulated into this incantation of fiery wit. The translators convey the spirit of improvisation, yet, with a deftness of image and music, they deliver this book-length poem as a seamless work of art--an existential cry against a man-made void. What translates is the speaker's revolutionary psyche on to the page--his fierce affirmation of existence through an eloquent clarity of the real and surreal. Nowhere is Cesaire's passion sacrificed; this translation is a tribute to the poet -- Yusef Komunyakaa, New York University Amazing... This level of sophistication is partly why Cesaire became a world citizen, mayor, and Martinique's ambassador to the French Parliament * Ebony *
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