The New Discourse on Standards and Norms: Caribbean literature as a Case Study
Maryse Conde`s Crossing the Mangrove is a long and complex novel. It is set against colonial rule in the Caribbean. Its characters are varied. They range from a multi-ethnic protagonist endowed with spiritual powers to multi-racial locals mourning the vanishing of traditional ways. All characters reflect the radical transformation in the enunciation and transmission of literary standards. Conde’s novel charts the collisions between “civilized” exiles and unfamiliar societies that official standards and norms cannot grasp. In this regard, this paper traces Maryse Conde’s alteration of human thought and her new discourse on literary standards. What most obviously sticks out is Conde’s vision of standards and norms as the sum of symbioses, mutations, vibrations and mixings. The transcultural exchanges between the protagonist and the locals direct us toward the consolidation not of the “One,” but what might be termed the emergence of the “Many,” hence, the use of a new theoretical interpretative framework characterized by multiplicity. Accordingly, I will proceed on two levels: I must first analyze the new literary discourse on standards and norms by examining the theories of negritude, antillanite and creoleness. This indicates, in theoretical terms, the positive connotations of hybrid diasporic literature. Then, I will closely read Conde’s Crossing the Mangrove, which illustrates the historicity of literature and the textuality of history. Her text claims a discourse at the expense of a dominant discourse and oblique sub-discourses. Conde asserts the need for a plural and syncretic discourse, which can take account of the multiciplicity and complexity of postcolonial reality.
Keywords - Standards, Norms, Discourse, New Historicism, Exoticism and Versioning.