Matthew Mead


The work of Patrick Chamoiseau has often met with a polarised reception; Annie Le Brun identifies the writer's work as part of a 'new exoticism' (qtd in Bongie 343), while Derek Walcott effuses that the 'elation' of Texaco 'cracked my heart' (45). Richard D.E. Burton declares him the 'leading Martinican writer of the new post-Césaire, post-Glissant generation' (467), while others lament Chamoiseau's rejection of filiation with Aimé Césaire, Fort-de-France's long serving politician and poet and one of the founding fathers of Négritude (1997 133). Whatever the text's reception beyond the Franco-Caribbean world, my own encounter with Chamoiseau's work has always been compromised; my encounter is always with a text in translation. This would seem to begin with a redundant proposition, a statement applicable to much post-colonial fiction. However, Chamoiseau's distinctive blend of Martinique's linguistically privileged — or acrolectal — French and the less prestigious — or basilectal — Martinican Creole, would seem sometimes to exist at the margins of the translatable, especially if we treat what Maria Tymoczko calls the 'dilemma of faithfulness' with appropriate seriousness (21). Inevitably, the process of translation always risks a degree of appropriation:



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