'If he anticipated anything it was not obvious and, to tell the truth, he let himself be guided by the unpredictable consequences of the words; yes, this way of speaking was so right considering the thickness of the day, the weight of the heat, the slow memory'. "The Fourth Century" tells of the quest by young Mathieu Beluse to discover the lost history of his country, Martinique. Aware that the officially recorded version he learned in school omits and distorts, he turns to a quimboiseur named Papa Longoue. This old man of the forest, a healer, seer, and storyteller, knows the oral tradition and its relation to the powers of the land and the forces of nature. He tells of the love-hate relationship between the Longoue and Beluse families, whose ancestors were brought as slaves to Martinique. Upon arrival, Longoue immediately escaped and went to live in the hills as a maroon. Beluse remained in slavery. The intense relationship that had formed between the two men in Africa continued and came to encompass the relations between their masters, or, in the case of Longoue, his would-be master, and their descendants.
"The Fourth Century" closes the gap between the families as Papa Longoue, last of his line, conveys the history to Mathieu Beluse, who becomes his heir. Edouard Glissant is one of the foundational figures of Francophone literature. Along with other writers from the French West Indies, he inaugurated a radical interrogation of the French literary canon from the margins of the traditionally Paris-centred literary world. His books include "Black Salt: Poems" and "Poetics of Relation", which were also translated by Betsy Wing.
Publisher: University of Nebraska Press