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The CLR James Journal

Volume 26, Issue 1/2, 2020

Corine Labridy-Stofle
Pages 67-85

Reinventing Humor
Politics and Poetics of Laughter in René Ménil’s ‘Humour: Introduction à 1945’

On the eve of 1945, after the retreat of Admiral Robert but before the end of the war, René Ménil wrote an essay extolling humor as a quintessential literary mode of resistance and predicting that colonial authors would go on to contribute significantly to a literature of humor. This article seeks to clarify what humor means to Ménil by illuminating his engagement with Dada, the surrealist movement, Freud, and the concept of irony. In contemplating both the essay’s poetics and politics, this article suggests that Ménil’s vision not only anticipated the Antillean literature to come, but also offered a precocious illustration of it.