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Creole MedievalismColonial France and Joseph Bédier's Middle Ages$
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Michelle R. Warren

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780816665259

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816665259.001.0001

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Between Paris and Saint-Denis

Between Paris and Saint-Denis

(p.76) Chapter 3 Between Paris and Saint-Denis
Creole Medievalism

Michelle R. Warren

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter discusses some of the particularities of Joseph Bédier’s own formation as a “creole”. It examines his personal history—political affiliations, inherited creole culture, and explicit statements of creole identification. Politically, Bédier maintained seemingly incongruous affinities, from the socialist to the reactionary. Bédier’s contradictory political engagements derive from the fissures of creole subjectivity, themselves shaped by the contradictions of medievalism. On the one hand, Réunionnais elites embraced an idealized notion of chivalry that they translated into a mythology of racial purity. On the other, they resisted metropolitan efforts to compare the colony to “primitive” French provinces. The same duality characterizes Bédier’s personal relationship to creole identity. As he engages colonial memory in letters, speeches, and other autobiographical statements, he portrays the island as a source of loss and fulfillment, exile and belonging. Together, these biographical details establish Bédier as a representative “creole” as well as a unique “medievalist”

Keywords:   Joseph Bédier, creole, political affiliations, creole culture, creole identification, socialist, reactionary, creole subjectivity, medievalism, Réunionnais

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