Profile: Aimé Fernand Césaire 1913–2008


I picked up Une Tempète without knowing who Aimé Césaire was and while my French is not good enough to understand the subtleties of Césaire language I was intrigued.

And you lied to me so much, about the world, about myself, that you ended up by imposing on me an image of myself:
underdeveloped, in your words, undercompetent
that’s how you made me see myself!
And I hate that image…and it’s false!
But now I know you, you old cancer,
And I also know myself!
And I know that one day
my bare fist, just that,
will be enough to crush your world!

—from Caliban’s last speech in Une Tempète (1968) by Aimé Césaire,
who called his play a “radical” adaptation of Shakespeare’s The Tempest.

From “Aimé Fernand Césaire (1913–2008): The Clarity of Struggle” John J. Simon

A translation by by Richard Miller is available here Aime Cesaire: A Tempest (Une Tempete)

A biography of Aimé Fernand Césaire can be found at the Poetry Foundation.


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