Paperback: 256 pages
Publisher: University of Michigan Press
In Poetics of Relation, French-Caribbean writer and philosopher Édouard Glissant turns the concrete particulars of Caribbean reality into a complex, energetic vision of a world in transformation. He sees the Antilles as enduring suffering imposed by history, yet as a place whose unique interactions will one day produce an emerging global consensus. Arguing that the writer alone can tap the unconscious of a people and apprehend its multiform culture to provide forms of memory capable of transcending “nonhistory,” Glissant defines his “poetics of relation”—both aesthetic and political—as a transformative mode of history, capable of enunciating and making concrete a French-Caribbean reality with a self-defined past and future. Glissant’s notions of identity as constructed in relation and not in isolation are germane not only to discussions of Caribbean creolization but also to our understanding of U.S. multiculturalism. In Glissant’s view, we come to see that relation in all its senses—telling, listening, connecting, and the parallel consciousness of self and surroundings—is the key to transforming mentalities and reshaping societies.
Betsy Wing’s translation of Glissant’s work preserves the resonating quality of his prose and makes the richness and ambiguities of his voice accessible to readers in English.