This book examines a major modern turn in Francophone Caribbean literature towards the récit d'enfance, or childhood memoir, and asks why this occurred post-1990, connecting texts to recent changes in public policy and education policy concerning the commemoration of slavery and colonialism both in France and at a global level (for example, the UNESCO project 'La Route de l'esclave', the 'loi Taubira' and the 'Comité pour la mémoire de l'esclavage'). Combining approaches from Postcolonial Theory, Psychoanalysis, Trauma Theory and Gender Studies, and positing recognition as a central concept of postcolonial literature, it draws attention to a neglected body of récits d'enfance by contemporary bestselling, prize-winning Francophone Caribbean authors Patrick Chamoiseau, Maryse Condé, Gisèle Pineau, Daniel Maximin, Raphaël Confiant and Dany Laferrière, while also offering new readings of texts by Aimé Césaire, Frantz Fanon, Edouard Glissant, Joseph Zobel, Françoise Ega, Michèle Lacrosil, Maurice Virassamy and Mayotte Capécia. The study proposes an innovative methodological paradigm with which to read postcolonial childhoods in a comparative framework from areas as diverse as the Caribbean, North Africa, Sub-Saharan Africa and particularly the Haitian diaspora in North America.
Childhood, Autobiography and the Francophone Caribbean is the first book-length study of a remarkable literary phenomenon that emerged in the last decade of the twentieth century in the French Antilles and Haiti - the autobiographical narrative. Louise Hardwick expertly analyses this relatively understudied genre which uses childhood narrative in as much a politically as an aesthetically subversive manner. Her clear, meticulous and informed study reveals the ways in which these narratives of childhood, driven by a devoir de mémoire, relate individual memory to collective identity. This is a welcome critical work that makes a major contribution to francophone as well as to postcolonial literary studies.
J. Michael Dash
... a study that is a pleasure to read ... Hardwick's meticulous research, balanced approach and lucid prose merit serious consideration from specialists of the region.
Françoise Lionnet, Journal of Postcolonial Writing
Journal of Postcolonial Writing
Hardwick offers new insight into the collective character of francophone recits d’enfance by Caribbean authors, demonstrating persuasively that the ongoing narrative impact of slavery cannot be elided.
French Studies, Vol. 68, no 2
In an impressive series of close readings, Louise Hardwick analyses the genre of autobiographical childhood narratives ... These innovative readings constitute the volume’s tour de force: in inaugurating the critical field of récits d’enfance studies, it renews our approaches to Francophone Caribbean literature in general.
Malik Noël-Ferdinand, The Arts Journal: Critical Perspectives on Contemporary Literature, History, Art and Culture of Guyana and the Caribbean
Louise Hardwick’s excellent study is a most welcome contribution to the field ... With its beautiful style and pedagogical structure, it is a didactic masterpiece.
Christina Kullberg, Karib: Nordic Journal for Caribbean Studies
Karib: Nordic Journal for Caribbean Studies
Hardwick’s discussion of intertextuality—both among writers and self-referential—and her contextualization of the childhood memoirs within their authors’ larger oeuvre are most illuminating...Hardwick’s book constitutes a significant contribution to Francophone Caribbean literary criticism.
Odile Ferly, L'Espirit Createur
This well-researched and cogently written study makes a convincing argument for the significance of the récit d’enfance in discussions about Francophone Caribbean literature.
Sarah Barbour, New West Indian Guide
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