June 15, 2011 — Aimé Césaire (1913-2008) was an anticolonialist poet and politician from Martinique who was one of the Caribbean's most celebrated cultural figures. He is best known as the co-creator of the concept of "negritude," a literary and intellectual movement of the 1930s that encouraged black pride. His books include "Aimé Césaire: The Collected Poetry," "Notebook of a Return to the Native Land" and "Discourse on Colonialism."
In 1948, he published "Soleil cou coupé" ("Solar Throat Slashed"), a collection of 72 French surrealist poems imbibed with representations of Africa as a mythical homeland and land of origin. Translated and edited by A. James Arnold and Clayton Eshleman, "Solar Throat Slashed" is the sole bilingual edition of Césaire’s 72 poems in their original form, for the first time bringing this mid-century poet's major collection to life in two languages on facing pages.
Arnold, professor emeritus of French at U.Va., is the editor-in-chief of Césaire's "Oeuvre littéraire complete" and author of "Modernism and Negritude: The Poetry and Poetics of Aimé Césaire."
Clayton Eshleman, the other co-translator and co-editor, is poet, translator, essayist, editor and recipient of a U.S. National Book Award. He has published 11 books of poetry and is the foremost American translator of César Vallejo and Aimé Césaire.