Who is Rene Maran, on which Google has made doodles
2019 René Maran’s 132nd Birthday
Maran was a Black French journalist, and the first black writer to win the
renowned French literary prize, the Prix Goncourt.
Doodle celebrates French author René Maran, born on a boat en route from Guyana
to Martinique on this day in 1887. His 1921 book Batouala: A True Black
Novel spoke of life in a Central African village as seen through the
eyes of a tribal chief. Praised by the likes of Ernest Hemingway, the powerful
work of fiction made Maran the first black author to win the prestigious Prix
Goncourt, one of France’s highest literary honors.
Maran weaves a description of local culture in his writings in Bantu language
As the son
of a French colonial official, Maran spent his early childhood in Gabon and was
educated in French boarding schools. Like his father, he went on to work for
the French government, serving as an administrator in Oubangui-Chari, now known
as the Central African Republic. While there, Maran learned the Bantu language
and wove details of the local culture into his writing.
A true Black novel (Dimensions of the Black intellectual experience)
In 1921, the
preface to his debut novel criticized
racial inequalities in the colonial system, which sparked controversy and
criticism. Maran soon resigned from his government position and moved to Paris,
where he corresponded and socialized with African-American writers of the
Harlem Renaissance throughout the 1920s and 30s.
go on to write for prominent periodicals in France and America—including
publications like Opportunity, The Crisis, and Chicago Defender—and authored
several other books of verse, fiction, and memoir. He also spent more than a
decade reworking Batouala, a groundbreaking work of fiction that was admired
for its unprecedented insights into African life and widely translated.
“You smell the smells of the village, you eat its food, you see the white man as the black man sees him, and after you have lived in the village you die there. That is all there is to the story, but when you have read it, you have seen Batouala, and that means that it is a great novel.”
Maran remained staunchly committed to equality throughout his life, as well as to the quality of his writing. His success gave inspiration to the 1930s movement of francophone intellectuals in the African diaspora, and to this day he is regarded as a literary pioneer.
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