Connecting HistoriesFrancophone Caribbean Writers Interrogating Their Past

Connecting HistoriesFrancophone Caribbean Writers Interrogating Their Past

Bonnie Thomas

Print publication date: 2019

ISBN: 9781496810557

Publisher: University Press of Mississippi

Abstract

Connecting Histories: Francophone Caribbean Writers Interrogating Their Past explores the complex interchange between shared and personal pasts and how they impact upon individual lives. Through their historically-informed self-writings, the five Caribbean authors that have been selected for this study–Maryse Condé, Gisèle Pineau, Patrick Chamoiseau, Edwidge Danticat and Dany Laferrière–offer compelling insights into confronting, coming to terms with and reconciling with their past, both collective and individual. A central question is the conceptual link between singular and plural, between personal and collective notions of history and the connections that exist between them. The employment of ‘personal narratives’ as the vehicle to carry out this investigation encompasses the tension that is evident in the writers’ reflections, which constantly move between the collective and the personal and is embodied in the idea of ‘their past’–a complex, rhizomatic network that extends beyond the notion of a single, private life. The contrasting yet complementary nature of the book’s title–connecting histories and the personal past-underlines the existence of a shared past of which the five writers are deeply conscious, but also their own past, which overlaps with these historical inheritances. The book’s central focus, then, is trifold: it concerns a collective, and to some extent documented and shared, historical past; a more variable, unique, personal past revealed in the ‘personal narratives’ of the five authors as well as on the connections between these two pasts.