Racial Subjectivity and the Economic Verse: Nicolás Guillén’s West Indies, Ltd. (1934) and Aimé Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal (1939), and the Afro Caribbean Economic Malaise.
A careful reading of the negrista verses of Guillén’s West Indies, Ltd. and the négritude poetic rhythms of Césaire’s Cahier d’un retour au pays natal highlights a profound feeling relatively to the way the Guillenian voices and the poetic descriptions of Cahier unfold in an environment of social frustration and depiction of a complex socioeconomic status that reveals not only the material but also the economic condition of the descendants of Africans in the Caribbean in this early 20th century. Racial sensitivity has been affecting the poetic imagination of writers of the Avant-Garde artistic and literary movements around the world. The analysis of these two works has made it possible to demonstrate how literature fills the void created by economic theory and history in this part of the world. This literature is presented as a counter-discourse to economic theory because it provides a different reality about the material condition of the descendants of Africans in the Antilles. The metaphorical dialogues or semiology and analogies between the poetic text and economic life are made at the formal and semantic level of the poets' writing. At the semantic level, I place the Afro-Caribbean poetic discourse, and that of West Indies and Cahier in particular, in a justified intention of denunciation against the economic conditions of blacks in the region. The themes, as well as the poetic form of the stanzas and poems, obey a certain intention to show inequality in economic sectors, injustice and the lack of morality in material questions, economic vices and yoke of which the black subjects of Cuba, Martinique, and other Caribbean countries are victims. At the formal level, the metaphor is the comparative instrument that I use to demonstrate the semiology between the verbal symbol (raw material of textual exchange) and merchandise (raw material of true economic exchange). The negrista poetry and the poetry of négritude react as an intellectual and cultural corpus where all the worrying issues of the existence of Afro-descendants are represented.