Aimé Césaire (1913-2008)

Repeating Islands


Today marks the birth of Aimé Césaire (1913-2008), one of the Caribbean’s most celebrated cultural figures. Born on June 26 in Basse-Pointe, Martinique, Césaire dedicated his life to literature and political engagement, becoming a major advocate of négritude and anticolonial thought.

Césaire moved to Paris to study at the Lycée Louis-le Grand and the École Normale Supérieure, where he demonstrated his exceptional skills as a writer and thinker. As a student, Césaire met many like-minded Caribbean and African intellectuals such as Léon Gontran Damas, Léopold Sédar Senghor, and Birago Diop. The founding of their student journal L’Etudiant noir marked the beginning of their intellectual exploration of négritude. In 1937 Césaire married Suzanne Roussi. Two years later, they (with their first son) moved back to Martinique, where he started to work as a teacher at the Lycee Schoelcher. In 1941, the Césaires founded the literary review Tropiques with…

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