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Today in Language: Aimé Césaire

Le martiniquais du 20ème siècle, Aimé Césaire, aurait eu 100 ans aujourd'hui. Il est né le 26 juin 1913. Dans Nègre je suis, nègre je resterai, un livre d'entretiens avec Françoise Vergès, il s'exprime le noyau de sa vue du monde et de sa philosophie, tout ce qui a informe et inspiré et sa politique et sa littérature : « Chaque partie du monde a droit à la solidarité universelle. Il s’agit de savoir si nous croyons à l’homme et si nous croyons à ce qu’on appelle les droits de l’homme. À liberté, égalité, fraternité, j’ajoute toujours identité. Car, oui, nous y avons droit » (69). Dans sa politique (appréciant mais dépassant le communisme et même le simple anticolonialisme), dans la littérature (appréciant mais dépassant le surréalisme et même le simple postcolonialisme) il a toujours songé à ce droit d'identité, revendiquant lui-même celle de la négritude.

The Martinican man of the 20th century, Aimé Césaire, would have been 100 years old today. He was born on June 26, 1913. He has left his mark not just on Martinique, or even just on France, but on the world--in politics, litterature, and philosophy. One of my favorite quotes of Césaire is from a collection of interviews he gave a few years before his death. Building on the famous French slogan, central to the country's republican, secular values, he said, "Every part of the world has a right to universal solidarity. Do we really believe in man and in human rights? To liberty, equality, fraternity, I always add identity." Questions of identity, particularly in relation to politics and literature, were always central to his thought. 


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