Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Notebook of a Return to the Native Land” as Want to Read:
Notebook of a Return to the Native Land
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Notebook of a Return to the Native Land

by
4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,451 ratings  ·  97 reviews
Aime Cesaire's masterpiece, Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, is a work of immense cultural significance and beauty. The long poem was the beginning of Cesaire's quest for negritude, and it became an anthem of Blacks around the world. With its emphasis on unusual juxtapositions of object and metaphor, manipulation of language into puns and neologisms, and rhythm, Ce ...more
Paperback, 66 pages
Published September 24th 2001 by Wesleyan University Press (first published 1939)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Notebook of a Return to the Native Land, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Notebook of a Return to the Native Land

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,451 ratings  ·  97 reviews


More filters
 | 
Sort order
Rowena
Oct 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
"Vainly in the tepidity of
your throat you ripen for
the twentieth time the
same indigent solace
that we are mumblers of words.

Words? while we handle
quarters of earth, while
we wed delirious
continents, while we
force steaming gates,
words, ah yes, words!
but words of fresh blood,
words that are tidal
waves and erysipelas
and malarias and lava
and brush fires, and
blazes of flesh, and
blazes of cities . . ."


It might be odd for me to say that I enjoyed this poem. It definitely wasn't cheery and i
...more
Joseph Spuckler
Haiti where negritude rose to its feet for the first time and said it believed in its own humanity; and the comic little tail of Florida where they are just finishing strangling a negro; Africa gigantically caterpillaring as far as the Spanish foot of Europe; the nakedness of Africa where the scythe of Death swings wide.


Return to my Native Land by Aime Cesaire a single poem by the African activist. Cesaire was born in the French Caribbean country of Martinique. He earned a scholarship to Lycee L
...more
Jonathan
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
And neither the teacher in his classroom, nor the priest at catechism will be able to get a word out of this sleepy little picaninny, no matter how energetically they drum on his shorn skull, for starvation has quicksanded his voice into the swamp of hunger (a word-one-single-word and we-will-forget-about-Queen-Blanche-of-Castille, a word-one-single-word, you-should see-this-little-savage-who-doesn't-know-any-of-God's-Ten-Commandments),

for his voice gets lost in the swamp of hunger,
and there i
...more
Jenny
At the end of the small hours: Life flat on its face, miscarried dreams and nowhere to put them,
the river of life listless in its hopeless bed, not rising or falling, unsure of its flow, lamentably
empty, the heavy impartial shadow of boredom creeping over the quality of all things, the air
stagnant, unbroken by the brightness of a single bird.


When Aimé Fernand David Césaire came to study in Paris at the age of 19, he's said to have fled from the colonial misery and narrowness-mindedness of Marti
...more
Jonathan
Jul 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
The lack of a full five is simply because you should read the bilingual edition instead, or the unexpurgated one - but, to be honest, anything is better the nothing at this point
leynes
Jul 13, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: black-writers
Notebook of a Return to My Native Land was hard to rate. I would rate the poem itself 3 stars but since this particular edition had a brilliant and extensive introduction that I highly appreciated and from which I took so much, I had to rate it 4 stars. Mireille Rosello did a fantastic job at putting Césaire's work into its historical context and showcasing its relevance. Her analysis added much to my comprehension of the text.

Rosello took upon a very hard task: How does one commemorate the spir
...more
Lauren
"And above all, my body as well as my soul, beware of assuming the sterile attitude of a spectator, for a life is not a spectacle, a sea of miseries is not a proscenium, a man screaming is not a dancing bear..."

Aberjhani
A PRODUCT OF LITERARY FUSION

Aime Cesaire's Return to My Native Land, one of the great prose-poetry works of the twentieth century, was parented by not one but three literary movements: the Negritude movement, the Harlem Renaissance, and French surrealism.

The book's very rich suffusion of cultural and political nuances may be attributed to the Harlem Renaissance and the Negritude movement while its linguistic dexterity and philosophical daring would have to acknowledge some allegiance to French
...more
Aubrey
3.5/5
My negritude is not a stone, its deafness hurled against the clamor of the day
my negritude is not a leukoma of dead liquid over the earth's dead eye
my negritude is neither tower nor cathedral
it takes root in the red flesh of the soil
it takes root in the ardent flesh of the sky
it breaks through opaque prostration with its upright patience.
Yet another super short classic that translators and editors and introduction writers did their best to ruin. Unlike On the Abolition of All Political P
...more
meeners
Oct 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
I would rediscover the secret of great communications and great combustions. I would say storm. I would say river. I would say tornado. I would say leaf. I would say tree. I would be drenched by all rains, moistened by all dews. I would roll like frenetic blood on the slow current of the eye of words turned into mad horses into fresh children into clots into curfew into vestiges of temples into precious stones remote enough to discourage miners. Whoever would not understand me would not understa ...more
Sceox
Nov 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
So good.

What can I do?

I must begin.

Begin what?

The only thing in the world that's worth beginning:
The End of the World, no less.


words, as yes, words! but
words of fresh blood, words which are
tidal waves and erysipelas
malarias and lavas and bush-fires,
and burning flesh
and burning cities...

Know this well:
I never play except at the millennium
I never play except at the Great Fear
D.A.
Dec 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"At the end of the small hours: this town, flat, displayed, brought down by its common sense..."

Against the hate and exoticism Europeans unleashed for centuries on Caribbean and African lands, this haunting litany, this rhapsodic celebration of Cesaire's native Martinique, a place where "the daylight comes velvety like the sapodilla berry, the smell of liquid manure from the coconut palm" is more than glorious locales. It is a dream inside a nightmare, a poem in which the very language is breaki
...more
Diane
Mar 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: french, poetry
This long and surrealist poem is not only a cry of anger and pain against the effect of slavery and colonialism. It's also a war cry coming from the heart, and Cesaire's choice of weapon are words. It's the cry of the new "negritude", the cry of the chained man who decides to get free of his chains.

What I can only call Cesaire's "freedom rage" is expressed by the choice of getting free of traditional poetry rules. He alternates between prose and free verses and uses a powerfully contrasted imag
...more
Jana Tetzlaff
Feb 10, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had a class on Aimé Césaire at university years ago. I remember that reading Cahier d'un retour au pays natal was so difficult, but absolutely worthwhile. I think I spent more time preparing for this class than for any of the other ones that year (well, probaly with the exception of Latin...if I happened to take both classes the same semester...I really don't remember). That must have been the single most interesting class I had in French studies, not for any intersting discussions or analyses ...more
Tana
Sep 15, 2012 rated it really liked it
Aime Cesaire is brilliant and beautiful. This prose poem shows a trajectory of self acceptance by moving from individual experience to universal experience. It is unpredictable in form, and highlights the varying black experience.
Sean A.
Apr 15, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
A masterpiece.
I'd like to read Eschleman's translation, as I read a different version.
Zachary Bush
Mar 10, 2010 rated it it was amazing
One of the absolute greatest long poems I've ever read. And, of course, one of the weirdest. I will soon re-read it again, and again.
Dustin Kurtz
Aug 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
Marvelous. Marvelous. I'd forgotten so many details about this poem. The facing edition is an angry pleasure for the tongue.
D
Apr 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A true original, powerful and inspiring.

His reliance on "the blowtorch of humor" in denouncing the effects of colonialism on his Caribbean island home (Martinique) is a clear indication that Césaire had also understood the corrosive poetics of Lautréamont.

The alexandrine is so culturally ingrained that the French ear picks it up unselfconsciously.
[An alexandrine is a line of poetic meter comprising 12 syllables. Alexandrines are common in the German literature of the Baroque period and in French
...more
Kyle
Feb 05, 2018 rated it liked it
"I would rediscover the secret of great communications and great combustions. I would say storm. I would say river. I would say tornado. I would say leaf. I would say tree, I would be drenched by all rains, moistened by all dews. I would roll like frenetic blood on the slow current of the eye of words turned into mad horses into fresh children into clots into curfew into vestiges of temples into precious stones remote enough to discourage miners. Whoever would not understand me would not underst ...more
Kirby
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I had to read this three times to really get a grip on it. The language is insane— super lush and evocative and visceral. The content will sucker punch you. The voice still feels so contemporary and prescient after all these years. I would recommend reading up a little on Aime Cesaire and the history of colonialism in Martinique before diving into this to provide some deeper context.
Sharad Pandian
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
(A book to be returned to)
Diane
Sep 09, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fiction, ma-program
Another book I read for my "The Other Caribbean" English literature graduate course. Definitely a surrealistic sort of book. It left me with some interesting thoughts. Definitely a different tone from A Small Place. Although the speaker has returned from his time abroad. You can see the love he has for his birthplace. He is invested in it. Could it be because Martinique remained with the France as its protectorate position? I am not sure.
Erika Higbee
Apr 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Cesaire was a powerful, raw read. His word choices were unfamiliar and striking, an entire learning experience in itself. His poems do not hide the relentless, harsh gaze in which his blood, as a Martinican, as someone from Antilles, as someone labelled black, is seen in a colonial world.

“An indefatigable road charging at full speed a morne at the top of which it brutally quicksands into a pool of clumsy houses, a road foolishly climbing, recklessly descending, and the carcass of wood, which I
...more
Tandy
Mar 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
So much of literature is the strain towards illumination within a life led as its own negation, to locate in abjection an exaltedness. It is a sensibility borne in consequence of a society founded upon alienation and repression, where the greatest treacheries and stupidest hypocrisies claim providential justification (and where providence's earthly form must accommodate each displacement, the power of popes giving way to princes and so on), and equanimity presupposes a degraded passivity, an ins ...more
Wesley  Gerrard
Aimé Césaire is the father of Martinican literature. In his Cahier, he explores his roots in his native Martinique and looks with an often angry voice at the repression of his fellow islanders. The Cahier is a poem directed at enlightening the views of his fellow countrymen and giving them a point at which to resist their colonial masters, to escape the bonds of Negrédom, the chains of slavery that bound them in the triangular slave trade culture and left them in the sugar cane fields of Martini ...more
Jack Wolfe
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
I'm writing this review because I "finished" the poem, and I'm giving it four stars because it's powerful stuff, like Walt Whitman in how beautifully it ties together the political and the personal and the universal.

I'm not gonna write much else, though, because I don't think I'm really finished with it. There's a lot going on here.

I'll just say this: I fucking cannot stand it when some white dingbat piece of shit goes on Fox News and starts talking about the glory of the white race, and how-- a
...more
Danny Daley
Feb 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
As a founder of the negritude movement in Paris in the 1930's, Cesaire's influence and significance is massive. Thankfully, the quality of his art matches the level of its stature, and then some.

It's interesting to me that this movement followed the Lost Generation of Paris from the previous decade. The two do not seem related, but the point underscores the importance of Paris as a literary environment in the first half of the twentieth century.

This book length poem is beautiful, in every way,
...more
Cat {Wild Night In}
If you’ve ever been interested in the Harlem Renaissance, enjoyed Poeta en Nueva York or are interested in black culture, get your hands on a translation and read it.

This poem is one of the most difficult French texts I’ve read. Césaire’s goal was to mould the French language into the form that he wanted. His aim was to make his readers experience a sense of disorientation when they read it and to feel like foreigners in their native tongue. (When he moved to Paris for his studies in the early 1
...more
Craig Werner
Oct 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: poetry, caribbean-lit
One of the founding texts of the Negritude movement--the Caribbean iteration of the Harlem Renaissance--Cesaire's hybrid book combines essay, memoir and poetry. It's very much of its moment, a time defined by the seemingly intractable Jim Crow segregation in the U.S. and of not-yet-collapsing colonialism in most of the rest of the world. Cesaire was influenced by the French avant-garde which he encountered as a student in France, and it shows in the way he relies on images to carry meaning. But ...more
« previous 1 3 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodreads Librari...: Could you please help me fix a few things for this book? 3 19 Mar 23, 2018 12:14AM  
Help, I can not finish this book … 1 14 Aug 26, 2011 02:27PM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Zong!
  • Omeros
  • Poetics of Relation
  • A Map to the Door of No Return
  • Selected Writings
  • The Penguin Book of Modern African Poetry
  • Texaco
  • The Collected Poetry
  • M Archive: After the End of the World
  • Poems for the Millennium, Vol. 2: Modern and Postmodern Poetry from Postwar to Millennium
  • A Dying Colonialism
  • Myal
  • Sleeping With the Dictionary
  • Ceremonies: Prose and Poetry
  • Stanzas in Meditation
  • The Poems of Octavio Paz
  • Race-Ing Justice, En-Gendering Power: Essays on Anita Hill, Clarence Thomas, and the Construction of Social Reality
  • The Arrivants: A New World Trilogy
See similar books…
177 followers
Aimé Fernand David Césaire was an Afro-Martinican francophone poet, author and politician.
“Beware, my body and my soul, beware above all of crossing your arms and assuming the sterile attitude of the spectator, for life is not a spectacle, a sea of griefs is not a proscenium, and a man who wails is not a dancing bear.” 53 likes
“A man screaming is not a dancing bear. Life is not a spectacle.” 29 likes
More quotes…