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Article

Emad Abdul-Latif

Egyptian poet, critic, broadcaster, painter, and physician, was born in the al-Hanafy district in Cairo. His father, Muhammad Abu Shadi, was the head of the Egyptian Bar Association and his mother, Amina Naguib, was a poetess. He completed his primary and secondary education in Cairo and was involved in antioccupation activities during his adolescence. He joined the faculty of medicine (named Qasr al-Aini) and then traveled to London in 1912 to complete his studies in medicine at the University of London where he obtained a certificate of honor from Saint George Hospital in 1915. He married a British woman and lived with her in Egypt until her death in 1945. Following his return to Egypt in 1922, he served in many governmental posts in such places as the Ministry of Health and the Faculty of Medicine, Alexandria University. In 1946 he immigrated to the United States ...

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Yvonne Maggie

was born Mário Raul de Morais Andrade in São Paulo on 9 October 1893 and died in the same city, at the age of 51, on 25 February 1945. His father Carlos Augusto de Andrade, held various jobs throughout his life, including stints as a typographer, a bookkeeper, clerk, bank manager, and merchant, while also showing a penchant for writing, as a journalist and a playwright, which gained him some notoriety in São Paulo. In 1879 he created the Folha da Tarde, São Paulo’s first evening newspaper. Mário’s mother, Maria Luísa de Almeida Leite Moraes de Andrade, came from an affluent family. His maternal grandfather, an important politician and professor of the renowned Faculdade de Direito de São Paulo (São Paulo Law School), served as president of Goiás Province in 1881.

Andrade did not inherit capital or gain wealth during his lifetime His only property was a ...

Article

James Jankowski

Egyptian journalist, poet, and literary critic, was born in the Aswan region of Upper Egypt on 28 June 1889. His father, an archivist and money-changer, was Egyptian, and his mother was of Kurdish descent. ʿAqqad attended state primary school in Aswan, but since Aswan had no secondary school, his higher education was largely self-generated. With an inquisitive mind, and literate in Arabic, and to a lesser degree English (although his facility with that language improved over time), he read widely in his youth and afterward. An autodidact, his voluminous writings of later years demonstrate an interest in, and at least some knowledge of, a wide range of subjects.

In 1904 ʿAqqad left Aswan He had a varied career in the decade prior to World War I he worked in the Egyptian state bureaucracy possibly attending the School of Arts and Crafts as well as a school for telegraphers ...

Article

Evan Mwangi

Caribbean poet, historian, dramatist, and cultural theorist, was born Lawson Edward Brathwaite to Hilton Brathwaite, a warehouse clerk, and Beryl Gill on 11 May 1930 in Bridgetown, the capital of Barbados. He was later given the name “Kamau,” a common name in central Kenya, by the writer Ngugi wa Thiong’o’s mother, when Brathwaite visited Kenya as a guest of the University of Nairobi in the 1970s. For his early education, Braithwaite attended the Harrison College, an elite school in Barbados, beginning in 1945. He started writing poetry at an early age, publishing some of it in the school magazine, The Harrisonian, which he cofounded, and later in the audacious magazine Bim, edited by Frank Collymore, an eminent man of letters in the British Caribbean. Some of this early poetry was later collected in Brathwaite’s Other Exiles (1975).

In 1949 Brathwaite won the Barbados Scholarship to attend ...

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Lisa Clayton Robinson

Many critics in the English-speaking Caribbean consider Edward Kamau Brathwaite the most important West Indian poet. Although Brathwaite is also a scholar and educator, he is best known for his poetry, which makes use of West Indian dialect and asks questions about roots and inheritance, matters of concern to Africans across the diaspora. (As Brathwaite puts it in one well-known line, “where is the nigger's home?”) Ghanaian author Kofi Awoonor has called Brathwaite “a poet of the total African consciousness.”

Brathwaite was born Lawson Edward Brathwaite in Bridgetown, Barbados, in 1930. He attended Harrison College, where he published his earliest work in the school paper that he and several friends cofounded. In 1949 Brathwaite won the prestigious Barbados Island Scholarship to Cambridge University in England, where he received a B.A. degree in history in 1953 and a certificate in education in 1955.

While at Cambridge Brathwaite published ...

Article

Rodney Saint-Eloi

was born into a bourgeois family in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, on 5 December 1902. His father, the businessman and public official Rafaël Brouard, and his mother, Cléomie Gaëtjens, had four children. The young Carl spent his childhood in the Port-au-Prince neighborhood of Bizoton, and from an early age he fostered a particular passion for literature from the Middle Ages. When the US Marines disembarked to occupy Haiti (1915–1934), the aspiring writer was bruised: “28 July 1915. The Americans have trespassed on our soil. Melancholy has dilated our vision,” he wrote. This was an inquisitive young man who discovered with enthusiasm the nationalist ideas of Haitian intellectuals like Jean Price-Mars, which emerged in response to the occupation.

An alcoholic Carl Brouard led a bohemian existence in the Port au Prince of the early 1920s which contributed to a tense relationship with his father Around that time his ...

Article

Paul Breslin

Martinican poet, playwright, essayist, and political leader, was born on 26 June 1913, in Basse Pointe, Martinique. His parents, Fernand and Eléonore Césaire, were of modest means but devoted to their six children’s education. In 1924, Césaire entered the Lycée Schoelcher in Martinique’s capital, Fort-de-France. In 1931 he went to France to study at the Lycée Louis-le-Grand, then, in 1935, at l’École Normale Supérieure. In Paris, Césaire developed friendships with other young black intellectuals and writers, most notably the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor and Léon Damas (1912–1978), a French Guianese who had been his schoolmate at the Lycée Schoelcher. In 1937, he met and married a fellow Martinican student and poet, Suzanne Roussi (1915–1966). The marriage produced six children, one of whom, Ina Césaire (1942– ), became a prominent writer as well.

Césaire and his circle sought a definition of black identity They were influenced by the ...

Article

Richard Watts

Born in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, the second of six children in a family of relatively modest means, Aimé Césaire grew up with a strong appreciation for French culture. While most young Martinicans heard their bedtime stories in Creole, Césaire’s father would read his son French poems by Victor Hugo, which may explain in part Césaire’s bias against the Creole language. The family moved to Fort-de-France when Césaire was twelve years old. There Aimé enrolled at the Lycée Schoelcher and met Léon-Gontran Damas, a student from French Guiana. Césaire’s exceptional work there led to a scholarship to finish his secondary studies in Paris, France, at the prestigious Lycée Louis-le-Grand. In Paris he met the Senegalese Léopold Sédar Senghor, a man whose literary and political itinerary would mirror Césaire’s.

Césaire enrolled at the école Normale Supérieure in 1931 and began participating in the vibrant black student life of 1930s Paris Through ...

Article

H. Adlai Murdoch

was born in Sainte-Marie, Martinique, on 21 September 1928, the son of Édouard Glissant, a gireur (a worker who organized gang labor on a sugar plantation), and Adrienne (Godard) Glissant. Glissant wrote little about his father—and little, in general, that was autobiographical—but would dedicate his first novel, La lézarde, to his mother.

Beginning in 1939, Glissant studied at the Lycée Schoelcher in Fort de France, the capital of Martinique, a school named after the abolitionist Victor Schoelcher. The poet and politician Aimé Césaire had studied there earlier, and returned there to teach upon leaving France in 1939, although he did not teach Glissant directly. Another student who attended the school contemporaneously with Glissant was Frantz Fanon, the revolutionary writer and activist, who was three years older. After working on a 1945 campaign whereby Césaire was elected as a Communist candidate for the French Parliament and ...

Article

Richard Watts

Gilbert Gratiant, of mixed African and European descent, was born in Saint Pierre, Martinique. He grew up in a literary household that, unlike most mixed-race families in Martinique, did not attempt to hide its African roots. This consciousness of his heritage was evident in his earliest literary project: In 1926 he helped found the short-lived journal Lucioles, the first forum to explore the Franco-Caribbean literary identity of Martinique. But the moderate tone of this journal would earn Gratiant the scorn of René Ménil and Etienne Léro, two of the young editors of the journal Légitime Défense (first and only issue in 1932). They accused Gratiant of catering to the taste of the elite mixed-race bourgeoisie of Martinique. This episode would profoundly mark the rest of Gratiant's literary career.

Following World War II Gratiant wrote his most important poem in French, “Credo des Sang-Mêlé” (1950 ...

Article

Aninydo Roy

Commenting on the works of Wilson Harris, Jamaican novelist John Hearne said, “No other British Caribbean novelist has made quite such an explicitly and conscious effort … to reduce the material reckonings of everyday life to the significance of myth.” Born in New Amsterdam, Guyana Wilson Harris is the author of more than 25 books of fiction, poetry, and literary criticism. His most well-known works include the novels of The Guyana Quartet (1960–1963); The Four Banks of the River of Space (1990); the book of poems, Eternity to Season (1954, 1978 second edition); and the collection of essays The Radical Imagination (1992). He published his first volume of poetry, Fetish, while serving as a government land surveyor in Guyana in 1951. Palace of the Peacock, the first novel of The Guyana Quartet, appeared in 1960 and ...

Article

Luis Gonçalves

Mozambican poet, journalist, and literary and film critic, was born in Inhambane, Mozambique in 1932. His family name, Knopfli, comes from his Swiss great-grandfather. Knopfli’s father was in Mozambique, where he worked for the colonial government, and he married by proxy a Portuguese primary school teacher from the northeast of Portugal whom he had met years before, in Coimbra. She arrived in Mozambique at the end of 1930. In Mozambique, work assignments for both parents meant periods of separation for the couple, and Knopfli divided his time between his parents. He grew up on the school grounds playing with children of all races, while his mother worked in a racially integrated school. Knopfli credits his profoundly antiracism stance to his upbringing.

Early in his life Knopfli started to read politically engaged poetry from local authors who criticized the colonial regime which profoundly influenced him He also read poetry ...

Article

Peter Fraser

One of the most influential figures in promoting the intellectual and artistic life of the Black diaspora during the first half of the 20th century. He was especially interested in the visual arts but also encouraged black dramatists.

Locke was born in Philadelphia, graduated from Harvard University in 1907, and then attended Oxford University from 1907 to 1910 as the first black Rhodes Scholar. He then did advanced work in philosophy in Berlin before returning to the United States. He joined Howard University in 1912, only leaving to do his doctorate at Harvard. He then stayed at Howard until his retirement in 1952. He was the chief ideologue of the Harlem Renaissance and edited the influential anthology The New Negro (1925 in which he tried to lay out a cultural programme that would provide for African Americans a cultural and artistic life comparable to that ...

Article

Egyptian literary critic, journalist, lawyer, and politician, was born on 5 July 1907 in Kafr Mandur in central Minya al-Qamh to a large family (he had four brothers and four sisters). His father was a very religious man who was a member of a Sufi order, al-Triqah al-Naqshbandiyyah. Mandur was greatly influenced by his father‘s religious activity and placed a greater emphasis on his Islamic studies throughout his elementary education at the al-Alfi school.

The nationalist revolution of 1919 was a formative event in his early life He witnessed the demonstrations in Minya al Qamh including the violent one at Bahr Muys Bridge opposite the police headquarters The calls to get rid of the British and the revival of Egyptian national pride deeply influenced him His anti British sentiments grew following the British raid of his village after the villagers sabotaged the local railway During his high school studies ...

Article

Cynthia Hoehler-Fatton

Kenyan scholar, postcolonial theorist, and literary critic, was born in Seme, in central Nyanza Province, Kenya. He attended Ndiru and Ambira primary schools as a child, and the Church Mission Society (CMS) school at Maseno from 1949 to 1952. He studied at Makerere University College in Uganda from 1953 to 1956, where he was awarded the Makerere Arts Research Prize for his essay, “The Place of Folk Tales in the Education of Luo Children.” The historian B. A. Ogot, who was also a student at Makerere at the time, observes that for Owuor, this essay marked “the beginning of a distinguished career during which he made enormous contributions to the study of Luo oral literature” (Ogot, 2001 p 43 Anyumba came of age during the 1950s a period some Luo scholars refer to as the the Luo Renaissance when rising Luo intellectuals and educated citizens were actively ...

Article

Emad Abdul-Latif

Sudanese/Nubian poet and critic, was born in Aswan in 1897 to a Sudanese father and an Egyptian mother. His name, Tunbul, means “the generous” in the Nubian language. He belonged to a royal family that resided in the region of Argo in northern Sudan. After receiving his primary and secondary education in Aswan, he returned to Sudan with his family, where he joined the faculty of vice-sheriffs and was appointed a vice-sheriff in Dongola. Tunbul retired from his social and cultural appointments during the final years of his life and remained in his palace until his death in Dongola in 1951.

Tunbul is considered one of the first of those who called for modernizing Sudanese literature His ideas on the importance of the emergence of national literature were extremely influential in the development of Sudanese literature for many decades These ideas were presented in a group of essays that ...

Article

Maria Cristina Fumagalli

was born in Castries, St. Lucia, on 23 January 1930 to Warwick Walcott and Alix Marlin Walcott Derek had a twin brother Roderick and an older sister Pam born two years earlier Although the majority of the St Lucian population were Catholic and spoke a French based Creole the Walcotts were Anglophone and part of the Methodist minority that nonetheless played a major role in the cultural policies of the island Walcott s father Warwick the son of a white Barbadian and a St Lucian woman of African descent died when Derek and Roderick were only 1 year old he was a bright and dependable civil servant and talented amateur artist fond of literature and classical music Warwick s wife Alix the daughter of a white Dutch colonial of St Maarten and an Afro Caribbean woman was a hardworking ambitious and determined woman who taught for years at St ...

Article

Peter Hudson

Derek Alton Walcott, winner of the 1992 Nobel Prize for literature, is widely regarded as one of the most important writers to emerge from the English-speaking Caribbean. While other Caribbean writers have responded to what Patricia Ismond has called the West Indian “crisis of historylessness,” brought about by the devastating effects of slavery and colonialism, by searching for roots, Walcott celebrates the possibilities of the “newness” of the region. The figure of Robinson Crusoe recurs in his poetry and plays, exemplifying both the predicament of Caribbean isolation and the potential that isolation offers to West Indians for creating a vocabulary uniquely suited to the complexity and richness of their world.

For Walcott, the artistic legacy of classical Western civilization is integral to this creative process. At an early age, he “fell madly in love with English.” Born in Castries, Saint Lucia he became familiar with the Western canon through ...