Léon-Gontran Damas Criticism - Essay

Merle Hodge (essay date 1967)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Beyond Négritude: The Love Poems," Critical Perspectives on Léon-Gontran Damas, edited by Keith Q. Warner, Three Continents Press, 1988, pp. 119-45.

[Hodge is a Trinidadian educator, novelist, and critic. The following excerpt was drawn from her unpublished thesis, "The Writings of Léon Damas and Their Connection with the Négritude Movement in Literature," completed in 1967 at the University of London. Below, she examines the themes and tone of Damas's poetry, focusing on his work in Graffiti, Black-Label, and Névralgies, and remarks on the similarities between Damas and the French poet Jacques Prévert.]

[Graffiti] at first...

(The entire section is 4457 words.)

J. M. Ita (essay date 1970)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "On Black Label," in Critical Perspectives on Léon-Gontran Damas, edited by Keith Q. Warner, Three Continents Press, 1988, pp. 111-14.

[Ita is a Nigerian educator and critic. In the following essay, which was originally published in the journal African Arts/Arts d'Afrique in 1970, he remarks on the themes of Black-Label and asserts that the poem has been largely misunderstood in the English-speaking world.]

Black Label has, in the English-speaking world, the reputation of being a crude glorification of blackness, and a rather unintelligent example of black racialism. This undeservedly bad reputation is based on the fact, that of the...

(The entire section is 1083 words.)

Léon-Gontran Damas with Keith Warner (interview date July 1972)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: An interview in Critical Perspectives on Léon-Gontran Damas, edited by Keith Q. Warner, Three Continents Press, 1988, pp. 23-8.

[Warner is a Trinidadian educator and critic. In the following interview, which was conducted in July 1972 and originally published in the journal Manna in 1973, Damas remarks on his career and the Négritude movement.]

[Warner]: Do you think that when you started writing you did so mainly out of the urge to be productive from a literary point of view, or rather out of the urge to convey a particular message? If message there was, did you think that poetry was the vehicle to convey it?

[Damas]: There...

(The entire section is 2276 words.)

Keith Q. Warner (essay date 1973)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "New Perspective on Léon-Gontran Damas," in Critical Perspectives on Léon-Gontran Damas, edited by Keith Q. Warner, Three Continents Press, 1988, pp. 87-98.

[In the following essay, which was originally published in the journal Black Images in 1973, Warner examines Damas's poetic techniques, particularly the poet's use of repetition, humor, and musical rhythm.]

It is perhaps unfortunate that the name of Léon Damas is so often linked with those of Aimé Césaire and Léopold Senghor. The result is nearly always to the disadvantage of the French Guyanese poet, whose output is, to be candid, not as voluminous as that of the other two illustrious...

(The entire section is 3613 words.)

E. A. Hurley (essay date 1974)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Pigments—A Dialogue with Self," in Critical Perspectives on Léon-Gontran Damas, edited by Keith Q. Warner, Three Continents Press, 1988, pp. 99-110.

[Hurley is a Barbadian educator and critic. In the following essay, which was originally published in the journal Black Images in 1974, he interprets Pigments as an internal dialogue.]

It is understandable that it has been the practice to identify Léon Damas, the author of Pigments, as one of the leaders, along with Césaire and Senghor, of the Négritude movement. It is beyond question that the orientation of his first collection of poetry, published in 1937, around the themes of...

(The entire section is 3959 words.)

Bridget Jones (essay date 1975)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Léon Damas," in A Celebration of Black and African Writing, edited by Bruce King and Kolawole Ogungbesan, Ahmadu Bello University Press, 1975, pp. 60-73.

[Jones is an English-born Jamaican educator and critic. In the following essay, she provides an overview of Damas's career and works.]

Léon Damas has received less attention than Senghor and Césaire. Out of a less abundant literary output, a few protest poems from Pigments (1937) are too often all that he is known by. Since his brief parliamentary career which ended in 1951, he has avoided the controversies of active politics and remained an exile whose main commitment is to the cause of...

(The entire section is 5397 words.)

Daniel L. Racine (essay date 1982)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "The Aesthetics of Léon-Gontran Damas," in Présence Africaine, Nos. 121 and 122, 1982, pp. 154-65.

[Racine is a Guadeloupean-born educator and critic. In the essay below, he discusses the style of Damas's poetry.]

What is meant by the "aesthetics of Léon-Gontran Damas" is, as one may guess, his art as a writer. This art is discernible in both his prose and his verse. Within the limits of this presentation, it is not possible to describe the talent of the brilliant essayist of Retour de Guyane, "Misère Noire" [Esprit (June 1, 1939)] or "89 et nous les Noirs" [Europe (May-August 1939)] nor to demonstrate the art of the griot-like...

(The entire section is 3043 words.)

Thomas H. Brown (essay date 1992)

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

SOURCE: "Filling in Reader Gaps in Poems by Léon-Gontran Damas," in French Literature Series, Vol. XIX, 1992, pp. 47-56.

[In the essay below, Brown analyzes two of Damas's poems: "Ils sont venus ce soir" and "Contre notre amour qui ne voulait rien d'autre."]

Black francophone writer, Léon-Gontran Damas, portrays in his poetry the sad results of black/white confrontations in his native French Guiana. Leaving spaces for reflection, gaps to be filled by a creative reader, Damas has developed an art of nonspecificity, a writing technique rich and provocative in powers of suggestion. Although Sartre identifies the intended reader of black francophone poetry as a black...

(The entire section is 3119 words.)