Critical Overview

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Last Updated on May 5, 2015, by eNotes Editorial. Word Count: 162

Critics have tended to discuss Senghor's "Prayer to the Masks" along two lines. It is seen as an assertion of the value of African traditions and the African past, including Senghor's own childhood experience; it has also been discussed as Senghor's most hopeful vision of Africa's potential contribution to a new synthetic, global culture that will supersede colonial domination.

Its assertions of the African's spontaneous joyfulness and his attunement to the rhythm of the land and nature, qualities that Senghor opposes to the coldness and despair of the European, are seen as early expressions of the Negritude philosophy that would achieve its greatest influence after World War II. The more hopeful tone of "Prayer to the Masks" connects it with other works in Chants d'ombre (Shadow Songs) and contrasts with the somber note of the next volume, Hosties noires (Black Hosts or Black Victims), many of the poems of which date from the same period as those collected in the earlier volume.

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Essays and Criticism