Caribbean Literature

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Caribbean Literature

The evolution of Caribbean Literature started centuries before the Europeans graced these shores and continues to develop today. Quite noticeably, it developed in a manner which transcended all language barriers and cultures. Today the languages of the Caribbean are rooted in that of the colonial powers - France, Britain, Spain and Holland - whose historical encounters are quite evident throughout the region. The cosmopolitan nature of the region's language and cultural diversity develop from the mixture of European languages with Native American languages (mainly the Caribs and Arawaks) in the formation of creoles and local patois (hybrid languages) and those of Africans brought to the Caribbean as
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The movement originated in France and was called NEGRITUDE. However, its founders include Leon Gontran Damas of French Guiana and Aime Cesaire of Martinique. Rene Maran of Martinique won the Prix Goncourt (a French literary prize) with the novel Batouala (1921) which called for identification with black culture.

In the Spanish - speaking Caribbean African themes were presented in a most exotic manner, highlighting African and black identity for artistic inspiration. Prominent writers in this movement include Luis Pales Matos from Puerto Rico and Emillo Ballagas from Cuba. The works of Cuban poet Nicolas Guillen from the 1930's share sentiments with the politics of NEGRITUDE and address issues surrounding the struggle against colonialism. Alejo Carpentier, also of Cuba, achieved recognition with his novels in which he explores the history and sources of Caribbean culture.

The English - speaking Caribbean abounds with prominent writers including Jamaican novelist Tom Redcam (Thomas Macdermot), Claude Mckay, Jamaican born poet, and perhaps the best known writer of this generation internationally. Mckay later became one of the leading writers of Harlem Renaissance, a flowering black culture in New York in the 1920's and 1930's. Other writers who rose to prominence during this period are C. L. R. James of Trinidad, whose works protest against colonialism and help to define the anticolonial political and cultural struggles of his time. He was also instrumental
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