Country:

Guadeloupe

General resentation:

Simone Schwarz-Bart was born on August 1, 1938 in Charente where her mother, a primary school teacher, had gone because her husband, a serviceman, had been transferred there. Back to Guadeloupe at the age of three, she studied in Pointe-à-Pitre, then in Paris and Dakar.

This Diaspora will be reflected in all her writings, constantly investigating the imaginary triangle Africa, Europe, the Antilles. But even more important, because it was a catalyst for her journey as an author, was the encounter with André Schwarz-Bart in Paris. 18-years-old at the time, ten years younger than him, she followed him in the slow and difficult birthing of his master-piece: The Last of the Just (Goncourt Prize 1959). It is him who stimulated Simone to write, convinced of her artistic virtuosity and her talent as a narrator. Simone wove the Guadeloupian Creole into the compulsory French language of narration in order to testify of the West Indian condition, in several respects similar to that of the Jews. Detail to be noticed: the author took up her husband’s name, already famous, and left aside her father’s name as expected in “matrifocal” land.

Let us underline the co-authoring, a unique phenomenon in the (French) literary history: Un plat de porc aux bananes vertes/(pig tail and fig stew) (1967) is a novel written by four hands. The weaving of the West Indian and the Jewish exile, of the "French of France" and the Guadeloupian "patwoi", the moving portrait of the old woman Mariotte who is dying in the Parisian "Hole", are but a few dimensions that guarantee the novel’s current relevance. At the same time, the weaving or interbreeding of various linguistic registers, the exile and the wandering, the allusions to Césaire and to Villon announce a “Creole -style story telling” well before the word was coined. The fact that the authors announced their ambitious project to write a cycle of seven novels covering the slavery period to the contemporary Antilles proves that the Schwarz-Bart had nurtured together the desire to beget a work that would cover several centuries of West Indian history.

However, for all sorts of reasons, the authors, having lived together for years in Diola country (Senegal), and then in Switzerland and Paris, decided to write this monumental work separately. Simone Schwarz-Bart wrote a best-seller on her own, an «inexhaustible and unfathomable" novel (according to Chamoiseau and Confiant), an inescapable novel in any coverage of French West Indian, even Caribbean or postcolonial literature. The Bridge of Beyond. (Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle) was written simultaneously with Between Two Worlds. (Ti Jean l'horizon), a West Indian epic which, however, did not reach the fame gained by the narrative of the life of the last Lougandor.

André Schwarz-Bart, for his part, published an exceptional "historic" novel, "La mulâtresse Solitude"/A Woman Named Solitude" ( 1972 ), which also and still remains unequalled in the small corpus of West Indian historic novels, with his unforgettable painting and rendering of the beauty of Solitude, a victim of the French Revolution. The Schwarz-Bart later signed jointly a surprising encyclopedia in six volumes entitled “Hommage à la femme noire /In Praise of Black women” with its striking volume three consisting in poetic "index cards” of all black heroines absent from the official historiography, but surviving in Creole legends and tales.

Then the Schwarz-Bart seemed to resign themselves to silence, "separation is a huge ocean, and many are those who drown in there", distrusting the media and academic arena. André locked his unpublished manuscripts in his place, in Paris Chinatown, and settled down in Bwa Debout where Simone’s mother, Alice Brumant resided. Simone left her Creole furniture business "Tim, Tim" in Pointe-à-Pitre, to start a Creole restaurant. However, Ton beau capitaine/Your Handsome Captain, a single act play from which the above-mentioned quotation came,  is a marvel of temperance, and once more, the playwright managed to speak openly about the " The Negroes’ Nigger ", of the "nobody": the Haitian cane cutters in Karukera, an island where the inhabitants are not free from racist prejudices

Main works

Novels:

  • Un Plat de porc aux bananes vertes (with André Schwarz-Bart). Paris: Seuil, 1967.
  • Ti Jean l'horizon/Between Two Worlds. Paris: Seuil, 1979.
  • Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle/The Bridge of Beyond. Paris: Seuil, 1979.

 

Plays:

  • Ton Beau Capitaine/ Your Handsome Captain. Paris: Seuil, 1987.

 

Essays:

  • Hommage à la femme noire/In Praize of Black Women. (six volumes) (with André Schwarz-Bart). Paris: Editions Consulaires, 1989.

 

Short stories:

  • « Au fond des casseroles/Pot bottom ». In: « Espoir et déchirements de l'âme créole ». Autrement 41 (1989): 174-177. Reprinted (« Du fond des casseroles ») dans Nouvelles de Guadeloupe. Paris: Magellan & Cie / Fort-de-France: Desnel, 2009: 75-81.

 

Literary prizes and distinctions:

  • 1979     Grand Prix des lectrices d'Elle, for Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle/ The Bridge of Beyond.
  • 2008     Prix Carbet de la Caraïbe, with her husband André Schwarz-Bart (posthumous), for their entire work

 

Translations:

in English:

  • Between Two Worlds. (Ti Jean l'horizon)  Trad. Barbara Bray. (1981)  London: Heinemann, 1992.
  • The Bridge of Beyond. (Pluie et vent sur Télumée Miracle)  Trad. Barbara Bray. London: Heinemann, 1982.
  • Your Handsome Captain. Trad. Jessica Harris and Catherine Temerson. Callaloo 40 (Summer 1989): 531-543; Rpt. Plays by Women: An International Anthology. Vol. 1. New York: Ubu Repertory Theater Publications, 1988: 223-248.
  • In Praise of Black Women: Volume 1, Ancient African Queens ; Volume 2, Heroines of the Slavery Era ; Volume 3, Modern African Women ; Volume 4, Modern Women of the Diaspora. Trad. Rose-Myriam Réjouis, Stephanie Daval and Val Vinokurov. Introduction: Howard Dodson. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 2001-2004.

en español:

  • Un plato de cierdo con platanos verdes. Trad. Acinto-Luis Guerreña. Madrid: Aguilar, 1970.

in het Nederlands:

  • Horizont. Vertaald door Hetty Renes. Amsterdam: Knipscheer, 1983.
  • Wind en Zeil. Vertaald door Edith Klapwijk. Amsterdam: Knipscheer, 1986.
  • Een schotel varkensvlees met groene banaan. Amsterdam: Knipscheer, 1993, Globe Pockets.
  • Je knappe kapitein. Vertaald door Eveline Van Hemert. Amsterdam: Knipscheer, 1996.

Pluie et Vent sur Télumée Miracle / The Bridge of Beyond has been translated in  twelve languages

@La Médiathèque Caraïbe

joomla template