Journal of Arts & Ideas, no. 9 (Oct-Dec 1984) p. 91.


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political level^ Sa'icTs stand suggests anarchy and the domination of the lumpen proletariat Genet also bears some resemblance to the radicals of the sixties whose anti-establishment movement was pluralistic and somewhat vaguely moral and political. It supported oppressed minorities like blacks and homosexuals but without clear-cut goals.

The Screens, though more complex and theatrically more ambitious, tends to be subjective in vision; the earlier and admittedly simpler work. The Blacks, despite its shortcomings, has greater validity. As drama it is an electrifying experience in which Genet exploits the power of ritualistic Artaudian theatre to probe the awakened black consciousness. In its militancy the play may not weigh the pros and cons of colonial domination, but it is this very absence of "balance", its fierce anti-colonial rage that gives it intensity and makes it an effective instrument of social consciousness.

The question to which we revert in the end is: Does Genet really have any significant insights to offer on the problem of colonialism, or do his plays—as his severest critics maintain—merely exploit volatile topical issues to further his private war against the French bourgeoisie ? Obviously he does not say [nor professes to] all there is to say on the topic; there being entire areas such as the economic, for instance, which he ignores. Yet by emphasizing the psychological dimension of revolution, he makes an important contribution to the understanding of colonialism. Drama being a collective experience and arguably the most immediate in impact of all the literary genres, it is no coincidence that Genet should have chosen it for his critiques on colonialism. The theatric form helps him to explore aspects of conflict and thus to delineate the dialectics of colonial relationships.

1. Several studies in the mid-fifties notably 0. Manoni's Prospero and Caliban, (1950) trans. P. Powesland, Frederick A. Praeger, New York, 1964, (original title : Psychologyde la Colonisation), (Paris Editions de Seuit 1950 and Albert Memmfs The Coloniser and the Colonised (1957) Orion Press, New York, 1965 initiated explorations in the cultural and psychological dimensions of colonialism. Albert Memmi was one of the earliest to suggest that colonial revolt was a mass attempt at self-discovery.

2. Rene Depestre, Introduction to Aime Cesaire's Discourse on Colonialism, trans. Joan Pihknam, Monthly Review to Press, New York and London, 1971, p. 78.

3. Negritude as a movement was led by Leon Damas from Guyana, Leopold Senghor from Senegal and Aime Cesaire from Martinique. The movement significantly influenced the later American Black Power movement of the sixties.

4. In this connection black leader Stokeley Carmichael, voicing the feelings of the black movement, observed in 1967 : "Black Power to us means that black people see themselves as part of a new force, sometimes called the Third World; that we see our struggle as closely related to the liberation struggles around the world". Quoted in Theodore Draper, The Rediscovery of Black Nationalism, Viking Press, New York, 1969, p. 123.

5. Jean-Paul Sartre his in Preface to Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, trans. Constance Famngton, Penguin Books, Harmondsworth, 1961.

Journal of Arts and Ideas 91


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