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Literary Primitivism$
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Ben Etherington

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781503602366

Published to Stanford Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.11126/stanford/9781503602366.001.0001

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Primitivism and Negritude

Primitivism and Negritude

(p.33) Chapter 3 Primitivism and Negritude
Literary Primitivism

Ben Etherington

Stanford University Press

Chapter 3 considers a range of manifestoes and essays that articulate the primitivist project. Anchoring the discussion with Ernst Bloch’s conception of objective and subjective “nonsynchronicity,” it goes on to look at the ways in which artists appealed to the remnants of “primitive” societies when forming anticapitalist aesthetic programs that aimed to revive the possibility of primitive experience. It is argued that this program appealed above all to the colonized “conscripts” of capitalist modernity, something clearly in evidence in the early manifestoes and theorizations of “négritude.” Across the board, it is found that the primitivist project was conceptualized in terms of an idealized immediacy that could be reached only by breaking through the mediations of a totalized capitalism. Artists and writers discussed include Carl Einstein, T. E. Lawrence, Aimé Césaire, Suzanne Césaire, René Ménil, and Alain Locke.

Keywords:   nonsynchronicity, négritude, totality, immediacy, mediation, Ernst Bloch, Carl Einstein, Aimé Césaire, Suzanne Césaire, Alain Locke

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