René Depestre Internal Exiles and Exotic Longings

in Exile and Post-1946 Haitian Literature

Published by Liverpool University Press

Published in print March 2007 | ISBN: 9781846310799
Published online June 2013 | e-ISBN: 9781846313080
René Depestre Internal Exiles and Exotic Longings

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This chapter examines the work of René Depestre. In the history of Haitian exiled writing, Depestre's work is unique in that it chronicles sixty years of wandering, expulsions, exiles within exiles, across myriad different countries. Depestre's novels are compared with those of Alexis, and it is argued that while the latter's works are informed and shaped by his unrelenting determination to end exile and to return to Haiti, Depestre's novels have arisen out of an apparently unending, initially forced, but finally willful exile. Exile and displacement in Depestre's Le Mât de cocagne are, as in Alexis' first two novels, largely related to internal alienation — the character Postel exists in a ‘zombified’ condition, exiled from a lost ‘authentic’, benevolent Haitian culture. The chapter contextualizes Postel by analyzing other novels of internal exile: Marie Chauvet's Amour; Frankétienne's spiral Ultravocal, Pierre Clitandre's Cathédrale du mois d'août, Lahens' Dans la maison du père and Lyonel Trouillot's Bicentenaire.

Keywords: Haitian culture; exile writing; Le Mât de cocagne; internal alienation

Chapter.  25576 words. 

Subjects: Literature

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