Suzanne Césaire (1915-1966)

suzanne-cesaire

Today marks the birth of Suzanne Césaire, née Roussi. She was born on August 11, 1915 in Martinique, moving to France to continue her studies in Toulouse and Paris. There she met her future husband Aimé Césaire, with whom she collaborated, working for the journal L’Etudiant noir. The couple, with the help of René Ménil and Astride Maugée, founded the Martinican literary journal Tropiques (1941-1945) where she published her essays. Her essays bear witness to her productive intellectual exchanges with writers of her generation, her vibrant thought and writings, and her ongoing struggle for the recognition of Martinican and Caribbean identities.

While recognizing the debt of European aesthetic legacies such as the surrealist movement, Césaire wrote against assimilation and invited her readers to invent a new, autochthonous literature, with models more familiar to the Antillean world. She was one of the first to describe the Caribbean as a multiethnic, dynamic, and shifting region. Her work includes the adaptation of Lafcadio Hearn´s Youma, the Story of a West-Indian Slave (1890) for the theater with the title Aurore de la liberté. With her passionate political engagement and creative influence, Césaire is an important precursor to generations of Caribbean writers. Suzanne Césaire died in 1966 at the age of 50.

[For information on the edition of Césaire’s essays see previous post Le Grand Camouflage gathers Suzanne Césaire’s essays.] For full biography (in French), see http://www.lehman.cuny.edu/ile.en.ile/paroles/cesaire_suzanne.html

Photo and short bio from http://www.assemblee-martinique.com/joomla/news-225/litterature__photo_de_suzanne_cesaire.html

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