Jane Hiddleston's forthcoming book Frantz Fanon: Literature and Invention looks at the great postcolonial thinker, and his deep engagement with literature.
Here are some of the words in the first paragraph of Fanon's Wikipedia page: French, West Indian, psychiatrist, philosopher, intellectual, radical, Marxist, Pan-Africanist, humanist. That's already a lot, even before one gets to his influence in creating an inspirational ideology for liberation movements around the world. He comes across, in this account, as a verbal sort of figure, making speeches, rallying the troops (in some cases literally), dictating his thoughts, and seeing language itself as contested. If you grow up in Martinique, and are punished for using créole French rather than pukka, Paris-approved vocabulary, even your own speech can be a place of oppression. And if you call for violent revolution in Algeria, then your speech becomes itself a sort of weapon. It would be easy to categorise Fanon as the sort of writer for whom the written page is only a substitute for what he really wants, that is, a megaphone.
And yet that is to overlook his sensitivity as a reader, and the extent to which his own literary sensibility informed all of his intellectual positions. Jane Hiddleston's new book brings this often-overlooked side to Fanon's thought front and centre.
Frantz Fanon is due out in our Research Monographs in French Studies series in 2022.