Countermodernism and Francophone Literary Culture

The Game of Slipknot

Countermodernism and Francophone Literary Culture

New Americanists

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Book Pages: 312 Illustrations: Published: July 1999

Author: Keith L. Walker

American Studies, Literature and Literary Studies > Literary Criticism, Postcolonial and Colonial Studies

Keith L. Walker traverses the traditionally imposed boundaries of geography and race as he examines the literary culture produced by French speakers and writers born outside France. Focusing on the commonalities revealed in their shared language and colonial history, Walker examines for the first time the work of six writers who, while artistically distinct and geographically scattered, share complex sensibilities regarding their own relationship to France and the French language and, as he demonstrates, produce a counterdiscourse to their colonizers’ modern literary traditions.
Martinique, French Guyana, Senegal, Morocco, and Haiti serve as the stage for the struggle these writers have faced with French language and culture, a struggle influenced by the legacy of Aimé Césaire. In his stand against the modernist principles of Charles Baudelaire, Walker argues, Césaire has become the preeminent francophone countermodernist. A further examination of the relationships between Césaire and the writers Léon Gontron Damas, Mariama Bâ, Tahar Ben Jelloun, Ken Bugul, and Gérard Étienne forms the core of the book and leads to Walker’s characterization of francophone literature as having “slipped the knot,” or escaped the snares of the familiar binary oppositions of modernism. Instead, he discovers in these writers a shared consciousness rooted in an effort to counter and denounce modernist humanist discourse and pointing toward a new subjectivity formed through the negotiation of an alternative modernity.
Countermodernism and Francophone Literary Culture will engage readers interested in French literature and in postcolonial, Caribbean, African, American, and francophone studies.


Countermodernism and Francophone Literary Culture provides [a] rich and varied analyses . . . .. Walker’s complex readings aptly demonstrate the key role of these discourses in shaping Francophone cultural identity. " — H. Adlai Murdoch , L’Esprit Créateur

“[A] significant and highly original analysis of contemporary writing by francophone authors from Africa and the Caribbean. It is essential reading for anyone today who is conducting research on or teaching about these vibrant new literatures.” — Thomas A. Hale , Comparative Literature Studies

“Walker’s book importantly advances our thinking about several issues bearing on francophone writing and culture.” — John Erickson , Research in African Literatures

Countermodernism and Francophone Literary Culture will fascinate its readers. It would be difficult to find a specialist more knowledgeable and more able to share his uniquely perceptive sense of francophone culture.” — Michael Riffaterre, Columbia University

“A first-rate contribution to universal knowledge. This book is destined to remain a classic of the new semiotic critical approach of authors. It will be indispensable to students around the world enrolled in programs in literatures of the French expression and to professors who teach these literatures.” — Gérard Etienne, Université de Moncton


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Keith L. Walker is Associate Professor of French and Italian at Dartmouth College and coeditor of Postcolonial Subjects: Francophone Women Writers.

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Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-2143-9 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-2110-1
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