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Discourse on Colonialism

32 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-1583670255
ISBN-10: 1583670254
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Editorial Reviews

Language Notes

Text: English, French (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

About the Author

A celebrated poet, novelist, and philosopher, AIMÉ CÉSAIRE is the author of several books, volumes of poetry and numerous plays, including Return to My Native Land, A Season in the Congo and an African version of Shakespeare's The Tempest.


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 102 pages
  • Publisher: Monthly Review Press (2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583670254
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583670255
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 3.5 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (32 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #29,512 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

66 of 72 people found the following review helpful By Jason A. Beyer on May 31, 2001
Format: Paperback
While best known as a poet, Aime Cesaire proves himself in this work to be a first-rate political and cultural critic. His *Discourse on Colonialism*, along with Frantz Fanon's *Wretched of the Earth* are the seminal consciousness-raising works for colonialized peoples. Although Fanon and his book are the more famous, it is not obvious that this is justified. Cesaire brings his immense linguistic and poetic talents to his discourse, resulting in a work which is not only insightful, but moving and motivating as well. Cesaire condemns European imperialism in Africa and the Americas as evidence that European civilization is fundamentally sick and dying. He accuses Europe of turning a blind eye to the suffering caused by imperialistic rule, for the colonizer as well as the colonized. Most importantly, he calls to account not only the colonized people, but the Europeans as well. It is not only a powerful indictment, but a call to action and an attempt to shatter European self-deception. Even in a political climate that has changed greatly since Cesaire wrote this piece, it may well be one of the best things you'll read all year.
One final note: If you are wondering just what all the fuss is about, then this book is definately for you. Reading Cesaire will not only enlighten--it's one of those rare works that may even sensitize someone to injustice they may not care about, or may not even have noticed. In the tradition of Martin Luther King Jr., Susan Brownmiller and Richard Mohr; Cesaire's *Discourse on Colonialism* is an eye-opener. It is one of those rare books that has the real potential to make one a morally better person.
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44 of 50 people found the following review helpful By nadav haber on May 2, 2002
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book was written before Fanon's "Black Skins, White Masks". Much of what Fanon did in his great debut is elaborate on Cesaire's work, add psychiatric aspects to it, and further explore the ideas of Cesaire.
Cesaire's denounciation of the West (both Europe and the US) is based on two pillars - one is the Western deeply racist and violent attitude towards the then colonized world, and the second is Cesaire's Marxist leanings.He mentions the Soviet Union in one short sentence as an example of a positive society - how were people misled by Stalinist Russia was a mystery. But in the forward by Robin Kelly we learn that Cesaire quit the communist party and denounced Stalinism as early as 1956.
Cesaire's strongest point is that French attitudes towards Africa (half a century ago !) bear a close resemblence to German Nazi attitudes towards Jews and other "inferior" people.
The forward by Robin Kelly and the interview with Cesaire at the end add a lot of subtance to this powerful but short essay.
This book is highly recommended to people who appreciate Fanon, and all those who wish to learn the roots of anti colonial philosophy.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By blumeanie5000 on July 15, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a fascinating book for folks interested in the international decolonization movement of the 50s and 60s, and its relation to the Black Power movement in the States. The Discourse is beautifully written and passionately argued. The interview helps clarify Cesaire and Senghor's concept of "Negritude" as an early form of Black pride, rather than racial essentialism. The essay introduction is worthwhile since it puts the book in relation to Cesaire's poetic work and the Surrealist movement in France, America, and the Antilles. It's unduly dismissive of Cesaire's Marxist politics, especially since it goes against the spirit of the interview appended at the end.
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25 of 32 people found the following review helpful By jfpessoa on March 8, 2002
Format: Paperback
As the previous reviewer (American) has stated this book is a powerful indictment of European colonialism. However, the author wrote this book in 1950s, the heyday of the independence movement against the 19th century European empires, i.e. Britain, France, Portugal, etc. and therefore that is its focus.
What is condemned here has also the epitome of U.S. policy and economic activity in the Third World for the last half century, so Americans should not think that this condemnation is about something other than many of the taken-for-granted policies of the American empire. The rhetorical tone of the book may ring as a bit dated to ears used to ignoring what goes on in minds and hearts not located in the First World, but the events of 9/11 may give them new relevance. One would hope so.
Historically this book was of great importance, and it deserves rereading today - especially in the U.S.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Joey Huang on August 25, 2012
Format: Paperback
I had to buy this book a little while back for a European history class, and I am very glad to have read it. While I don't claim to be particularly knowledgeable about western philosophy / history, Cesaire's essay stands alone with its extremely powerful statements and descriptions that are made so memorable by the poetic style of this essay. It's a scathing analysis of the concept of civilization vs savagery, and the inherent racism and hypocrisy in western societies, and that Cesaire references so many philosophers really emphasizes how the evolution of thought in the west has inevitably led to so much of the brutality and tragedy through the 20th century. Don't just take this as a socialist bashing the bourgeoisie, because Discourse on Colonialism really is an eye opener and is sure to invoke a reaction out of the reader.
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