Post Number: 22
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Saturday, August 13, 2005 - 08:23 pm: ||
There is no one in this world of whom African and people of African descent can be more proud of than Maryse Conde.
She is, for us, life, literature, text, context, excellence, spirit, history, and personhood.
Her new work is "Tales From The Heart: True Stories From My Childhood".
Her work is a place we can trust, ground we should fight to continue to hold.
Maryse Conde is African literature to respect.
Best wishes to her, and, through her, to you.
Post Number: 36
Votes: 0 (Vote!)
|Posted on Tuesday, August 23, 2005 - 02:12 pm: ||
Maryse Condé (1934- )
(original name Maryse Boucolon)
Guadeloupean author of epic fiction, best-known for her historical novel SÈGOU (1984-85).
Condé's novels question stereotypical images of literary characters, colonialism, sex and gender.
She has also published children's books, a booklet about Guadeloupe, book-length essays about francophone women writers and oral literatures in Martinique and Guadeloupe, critical booklets about Aimé Césaire's Cahier d'un retour au pays natal, Antillean fiction, and numerous articles mainly about Caribbean literature and cultural studies.
"She was a young woman who was pretty in an odd way. Her lovely blond hair hidden under a sombre hood fuzzed up and formed a luminous halo around her head. She was wrapped in shawls and blankets as though she were shivering despite the warm, stuffy air in the cabin. She smiled at me and in a voice as pleasant as the waters of the River Ormond she said: so you're Tituba? How cruel it must be to be separated from your own family. From your father, your mother, and your people.'" (from I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem, 1986)
Maryse Condé was born in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, a small French/Creole-speaking Caribbean island.
In 1953 she was sent by her parents to Paris where she was educated at Lycée Fénéleon and Sorbonne, majoring in English. In 1958 she married Mamadou Conde; they divorced in 1981.
From 1960 to 1964 she was instructor at École Normale Supérieure, Conakry, Guinea. Then she worked at Ghana Institute of Language in Accra (1966-68) and Lycée Charles de Gaulle, Saint Louis, Senegal (1966-68).
Condé's African year were restless. She had to move from one country to another to escape arrests of dissidents. These years of wandering also were fruitful for her creative development. She has argued that too much familiarity with a place does not allow an author to write about it more truthfully but only to 'mythify' it.
When Sekou Touré government tightened its policy against opposition, Condé fled to Ghana. In 1968 Condé moved to London, where she worked for the BBC as a program producer. In the 1970s she was an assistant at Jussieau (1970-72) and a lecturer at Nanterre (1972-80). Between the years 1980 and 1985 Condé was a course director at Sorbonne.
In the 1970s she wrote several plays, which were performed in Paris and in the West Indies. Her first novel, HÉRÉMAKHONON, appeared in 1976. It told a story of a young black West Indian woman, Veronica, who is eduvatd in Paris and searches her roots in Africa. In Paris she had a white lover, and in Africa she becomes the mistress of the Minister of Defence, who turns out to be thoroughly corrupt. The theme continued in the novel UNE SAISON À RIHATA (1981), where her African and Caribbean characters are lost in a corrupt country. Condé had denied that Veronica was an autobiographical character.
Condé's novels are set at cultural intersection, exploring the intrusion of European imperialism into Africa and the resulting diaspora cultures, particularly that of the West Indies. In her early novels the author explored the myth that the rediscovery of African ancestry can solve the Caribbean question. In later works Condé has focused on West Indian deadly net of past myths, contemporary corruption, and disillusionment about the possibility to erase a colonial past of dispossession.
Condé's major work is the two-part historical novel Ségou, which became a best-seller. Set in historic Ségou (now part of Mali) it traced the history of the royal Traore family in its encounter with slave trade, Islam, Christianity, and French colonialism from between 1797 and 1860. The work follows the fates of four royal sons. It also includes historical documents - ethnographical notes, genealogies, and maps.
Since 1986 Condé has been living in Guadeloupe, teaching in the US. Since 1990 she has taught at University of California, Berkeley, where she is a tenured professor of French. Her home she maintained on her native island. Her husband, Richard Philcox, has translated many of her works. During her stay at the University of California at Los Angeles, Condé wrote MOI, TUTUBA SORCIÈRE, in which the author moved back to the Americas. It was awarded the Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme in 1986.
Tituba is a story of the forgotten witch of Salem and written as an autobiographical transcription of the heroine's life. In this work and Winward Heights (1995) Condé has reinterpreted stories and historical events that have became a part of Western cultural heritage. Tituba is the daughter of a Barbadian slave woman who ends up in Massachusetts in the village of Salem. She was arrested along with the white girls in the witch trials of 1692, which also inspired Arthur Miller's famous play The Crucible (1953). Later she was released from jail. There is not much records of what happened to her afterwards. Condé adds to what little is known about Tituba. She has created her a fictional childhood as an orphan in Barbados. There she was initiated into another, benign, kind of witchcraft, brought from Africa by an old woman, Mama Yaya, before being sold to the family who bring her to Salem. In Puritan New England her talent is considered a threat to society. LA COLONIE DU NOUVEAU MONDE (1993) ends with disillusionment. It presented a mock version of the colonial enterprise. Trying to overcome their alienation, a couple from Guadeloupe - who met in psychiatric institution in France - stage a return to the place 'before things went wrong,' i.e. Egypt. Finally their sad journey ends in Columbia.
"Nos mythes ont la vie dure. Nous croyons que les liens de parenté sont les plus solides. Le sang n'est pas de l'eau, ressassent les voix sorties d'Afrique. Tous ces enfants torturés, maltraités, dépecés, tous ces fétus jetés dans les poubelles, mis à pourrir dans les grands bois ne les ont pas réduites au silence et nous sommes là à répéter, après elles, des choses que la réalité contredit. Les remords m'a pris quand je t'ai vue devenir le fantôme de ce que tu étais, plus de sourire, des joues creusées; des yeux sans lumière, jusqu'à tes cheveux qui perdaient leur bonne couleur de paille de maïs. Est-ce que tu n'étais pas mieux là où tu étais?" (from Desirada, 1997)
LA MIGRATION DES COEURS from 1995 transposed Emily Brontë's wild love affair from Wuthering Heights to a Caribbean context and set the story against reincarnation cult. This experiment in intertextuality has been considered Condé's finest achievement to date. Heathcliff appears as Razye and Cathy's daughter suffers the consequences of her mother's choices. DESIRADA (1997) deals again seach of the past, truth and lies, and spans three generations and three countries - Guadeloupe, France and America. Condé has received several awards, including Prix Littéraire de la Femme (1986), Boucheron prize (1986), and Académie Française prize (1988).
Note: - Condé's birth date in some sources Nov. 2, 1937, in this calendar Feb. 11, 1934
LE MORNE DE MASSABIELLE, 1971 (play)
DIEU NOUS L'A DONNÉ, 1972 (play)
LA MORT D'OLUWEMI D'AJUMAKI, 1973 (play, prod. 1975)
trans.: DE CHRISTOPHE COLUMBE À FIDEL CASTRO by Eric Williams, 1975
trans.: HÉRÉMAKHONON, 1976
ed.: LE ROMAN ANTILLAIS, 1977
ed.: LA POÉSIE ANTILLAISE, 1977
LA CIVILISATION DU BOSSALE, 1978
LE PROFIL D'UNE ÆUVRE: CAHIER D'UN RETOUR AU PAYS NATAL, 1978
CAHIER D'UN RETOUR AU PAYS NATAL; CÉSAIRE: ANALYSE CRITIQUE, 1978
LA PAROLE DES FEMMES, 1979
UNA SAISON À RIHATA, 1981 - A Season in Rihata
SÉGOU: LES MURAILLES DE TERRE, 1984 - Segu
SÉGOU II, 1985 - The Children of Segu
PAYS-MÊLÉ SUIVI DE NANNA-YA, 1985
MOI, TITUBA, SORCIÉRE NOIRE SALEM, 1986 - I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem I
LA VIE SCÉLÉRATE, 1987 - The Tree of Life
HAÏTÍ CHÉRIE, 1987
PENSION LES ALIZÉS, 1988 (play, prod. 1989)
EN ATTENDANT LE BONHEUR, 1988
GUADELOUPE, 1988 (photographs by Jean Du Boisberranger)
VICTOR ET LES BARRICADES, 1989
TRAVERSÉE DE LA MANGROVE, 1989 - Crossing the Mangrove
AN TAN REVOLISYON, 1989 (play, prod. 1989)
VICTOR ET LES BARRICADES, 1989
HUGO LE TERRIBLE, 1990
ed.: BOUQUET DE VOIX POUR GUY TIROLIEN, 1990 (with Alain Rutil)
No Woman No Cry, 1991
The Hills of Massabielle, 1991 (play)
ed.: L'HÉRITAGE DE CALIBAN, 1992
LES DERNIERS ROIS MAGES, 1992 - The Last of the African Kings
LA COLONIE DU NOUVEAU MONDE, 1993
LA MIGRATOION DES COEURS, 1995 - Winward Heights