Dialogues of Negritude: An Analysis of the Cultural Context of Black Writing

Jean Baptiste Popeau
1992
This thesis undertakes to examine the full implications of Abiola !rele's statement in 'Negritude or Black Cultural Nationalism' that the roots of Negritude ' ......... lie far down in the total historical experience of the black man in contact with the white.' [Journal of Modem African Studies, 3, 3 (1965) pp321-348] The first part examines the place of Blacks in Western speculative thought by way of Hegel's comments on Africa and Africans and, the implications for the Negro of Hegel's
more » ... of Hegel's Master-Slave dialectic. The concept of the Negro in Western speculative thought is analysed generally as manifesting two essential aspects: the Negro is seen as either a negative savage threatening the values of Western civilization or, as heroic rebel. Certain modernist writers are discussed for their view of the Negro as an outsider challenging the comfortable oppressions of bourgeois humanism. These two views of Blacks are traced in the Western literary tradition in the works of Shakespeare, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Joseph Conrad, Michel Tournier. In Part Two while making extensive reference to Jean-Paul Sartre's 'Black Orpheus' I take issue with his thesis that Negritude represents a negation of White Culture. I argue that Negritude represents a dialogue which continues to the present, with the Other, and with the Western concept of the Negro. I trace the development of this dialogue in the work of the early exponents of Negritude (Leon Damas, Jacques Roumain) and its two most prominent theorists, Leopold Senghor and Aime Cesaire. The later development of Negritude in the work of James Baldwin and Richard Wright is discussed. I then examine the theoretical position of Wilson Harris as a critique of Negritude. Lastly I discuss the legacy of Negritude and its importance for the problems of modern Black writing
doi:10.25602/gold.00028750 fatcat:kvfy6232vzfptb6pgfs4tnn6oq