The Plays from Alienation and Freedom

The Plays from Alienation and Freedom

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Prior to becoming a psychiatrist, Frantz Fanon wanted to be a playwright and his interest in dialogue, narrative and metaphor continued throughout his writing and career. His interest in theatre developed during the years that he was studying medicine, and in 1949 he wrote the plays The Drowning Eye (L'Oeil se noie), and Parallel Hands (Les Mains paralleles). These texts were rumoured to exist, but were thought to have been lost forever until their discovery and release in French in 2016. This first English translation of the texts offers an extraordinary insight into Fanon's thinking and preoccupations as a young man.

Inspired by nineteenth and twentieth- century existentialist philosophers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Soren Kierkegaard, Jean-Paul Sartre and Albert Camus, Fanon's plays explore experiential preoccupations with consciousness and identity. The Drowning Eye is one of Fanon's earliest explorations of race and is seen to offer a forceful rejection of the contemporary negritude movement of intellectuals such as Aime Cesaire and Leon Damas. In it, Fanon posits that those of a different ethnicity should not be objectified and matters of difference should be matters of indifference. Parallel Heads represents some of Fanon's most experimental writing. It is a four-act tragedy written in the style of Ancient Greek drama and includes the killing of a king and strong and determined female characters, who frequently criticise their male counterparts. The inclusion of such tropes has been interpreted by critics as the killing of the white, male Father and Fanon's own indictment of masculine patriarchy, thus supporting the theory that despite his engagement with different genres, a rich revolutionary seam runs throughout his work.

The imaginative and violent vocabulary used throughout the plays gives us a totally different kind of Fanon to the writer we encounter later in The Wretched of the Earth. In this unique view of one of the most important political voices of the twentieth century, Alienation and Freedom: The Plays shows us Fanon at his most lyrical, experimental and yet, provocative.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 256 pages
  • 138 x 216mm
  • Bloomsbury Academic
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1350126578
  • 9781350126572

Table of contents

Frantz Fanon: Works Cited

General Introduction, by Jean Khalfa and Robert J.C. Young

Fanon, Revolutionary Playwright, by Robert J.C. Young
1 The Drowning Eye
2 Parallel Hands

Frantz Fanon's Library and Life
Franz Fanon's Library
Key dates of Fanon's chronology

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About Frantz Fanon

Frantz Fanon (1925-1961) was a Martinique-born psychiatrist, philosopher, revolutionary, and writer. He was the author of classic works such as Black Skin, White Masks (1952) and The Wretched of the Earth (1961). He was one of the most significant anti-colonialist, anti-imperialist and anti-racist thinkers of the 20th Century.

Jean Khalfa is a Senior Lecturer in French Studies at Trinity College Cambridge, UK. He is the author of Poetics of the Antilles (2016) and an upcoming work on Frantz Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth. He is also the editor of the first complete edition of Michel Foucault's History of Madness (2006).

Robert J. C. Young, FBA, is Julius Silver Professor of English and Comparative Literature at New York University, USA. He is the author of White Mythologies (1990), Colonial Desire (1995), Postcolonialism: An Historical Introduction (2001), The Idea of English Ethnicity (2008) and Empire, Colony, Postcolony (2015).

Steven Corcoran is a writer and translator living in Berlin. He has edited and translated several works by Jacques Ranciere, including Dissensus (2015) and The Lost Thread (2016).
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