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HOW TO WRITE IN A DOMINATED COUNTRY : THE REWRITING OF VICHY HISTORY IN RAPHAEL CONFIANT’S LE NÈGRE ET L’AMIRAL

In 1988, Raphael Confiant introduced the Martinican people to an almost unknown part of their own history in {Le Nègre et l’amiral}. In this novel he speaks about “an tan Robè”, that is, the Vichy Regime of 1940-1943 in Martinique and various forms of resistance to it. “An tan Robè” was characterized by scarcity and restrictions on civil liberties. Repression carried out by its representatives, such as Admiral Robert, was so acute that Martinicans thought that slavery might come back.

In a preliminary study, I concentrated on the historical aspect of this novel. My present study analyzes why Confiant’s choice of revisiting Vichy’s National Revolution is not only meaningful historically, but also significant from a literary point of view. I argue that the notion of resistance/dissidence and collaboration, prominent in {Le Nègre et l’Amiral}, appears as an allegory for Confiant’s dilemma: how to write in a culturally dominated country and what language to choose to express his {créolité}. This duality or dichotomy arises in contrasting the two narrators’ points of view this novel. This contrast also echoes the diglossic situation in the French Antilles; Creole and French are both spoken but only the latter is written thus creating a wide gap between spoken and written activities. French is the language that is official and revered, yet it does not always reflect the inner self, while Creole is despised, yet nevertheless, often represents the people. Confiant, writing his first novel in French, seems to give us a hint, however the answer is not as easy or obvious as it seems. The relationship between author, narrators and characters to language contributes towards constructing and unraveling the representation of self and the other, thus creating {créolité}. (...)

_ Par {{Jacqueline Couti}}
_ {UMCP Conference 2003}
_ {UVA French Department}

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