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Édouard Glissant (Sainte-Marie, Martinique, September 21, 1928 – Paris, February 3, 2011) was a French novelist, poet and essayist. Poet of miscegenation, he created the concepts of “creolization” and “All-World”.
Édouard Glissant was born in Martinique on September 21, 1928 in Bezaudin, in the municipality of Sainte-Marie. He grew up with his mother and four brothers in Le Lamentin, an urban center in the center of the island. He completed his primary education in the school of the Third Republic, where the students were forbidden to speak in the Creole language (créole). In 1938 he was a scholarship scholar Victor Schoelcher of Fort de France. There, he met Aimé Césaire, a young philosophy professor, who, nevertheless, was never his teacher.
In 1946 he traveled to Paris to study philosophy and ethnology at the Sorbonne. He joined the intellectual life of the capital and worked for the magazine Les Lettres Nouvelles, editor Maurice Nadeau, and Présence Africaine. He met anti-colonial intellectuals Frantz Fanon and Kateb Yacine, among others. In 1956, he published Sol de la Conciencia and the poetry book Les Indes under the imprint of Le Seuil. In 1958, he was awarded the Renaudot Prize for his novel La Lezarde, thus gaining recognition from critics and the public.
Glissant was very involved in the anti-colonial struggle. He was a member and signatory of the Manifesto of the 121 for the independence of Algeria. He participated in the first two International Congresses of black writers and artists that took place in 1956 at the Sorbonne and in 1959 in Rome. There, he met Albert Béville, an official of the colonial administration, also known as a poet under the pseudonym of Paul Niger, with whom he founded, along with the lawyer Marcel Manville, the Antillean-Guyanese Front. The Front had to be dissolved by decree in July 1961, so Glissant was arrested in Guadeloupe in September and then expelled. He was also forbidden to stay in the Antilles and was confined to reside in metropolitan France.
He returned to Martinique in 1965 and continued his critical work as founder of Acoma magazine, published in the Maspero publishing house, which develops a reflection on the situation in the Antilles. His literary work grows: theater – Monsieur Toussaint in 1977; novel – Malemort in 1975 and La Case du Commandeur in 1981; essay – L’intention poétiqueen (1969) and, finally, The Antillean Discourse, a great compilation of his texts on the Antilles with a sociological as well as an anthropological and poetic perspective, trying, as Fanon said, to make “the inventory of the real”.
Between 1981 and 1988 he was director of the Unesco Courier. Then, in 1988 he joined the University of Louisiana as a Distinguished Professor. From the reading of the work of William Faulkner, he developed a reflection on the South of the United States published in 1996 under the title Faulkner, Mississippi. In 1994 the City University of New York appointed him chair of the chair of French literature. He continued with his political commitment as honorary president of the writers’ parliament, defending the persecuted writers together with Salman Rushdie, Wole Soyinka and Pierre Bourdieu among others.
Its international recognition grew with the attribution of different prizes and the organization of colloquiums in Porto (1990), La Sorbonne (1998) and New York University (2005). Between novel and essay he developed his concept of All-World with the publication of the homonymous novel (1993) and the Treaty of the All-World (1997).
In 2006, French President Jacques Chirac appointed him to create a center for the memory of slavery. Although the ACTE center opened its doors only in July 2015, Glissant’s work was completed with the publication of Memoires des esclavages in 2007.
In 2007 Glissant created, with the support of the French Ultra-Sea Secretariat, the Institut du Tout-Monde, the institutional materialization of the concept, with the aim of consolidating the ideals developed through the concepts of creolization, relationship and of All-World. The Institute organizes university seminars and poetic and artistic meetings that take place in the House of Latin America in Paris.
Édouard Glissant died on February 3, 2011 in Paris and was buried at the Cimetière du Diamant in Martinique.
Édouard Glissant’s tomb in the Cimetière du Diamant in Martinique.
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