Tempest was originally written in 1969 in French by Aime Cesaire and translated
into English in 1985 by Richard Miller. It is written as a postcolonial
response to The Tempest by William Shakespeare. The story is the same:
a big storm, an angry Duke who's been usurped by his brother, all the
devoted courtesans, and, of course, the natives. This play deals mostly
with the natives, Ariel and Caliban. It is Cesaire's comment on the colonization
of the "New World." He has many of the same ideas as C.L.R.
James,and Franz Fanon, and he as inspired newer Caribbean writers like
About the author:
Aime Cesaire was born in Martinique in
Tempest is related to much of the other texts represented in this site in
various ways. The trials of Caliban and Ariel are related to the oppression
felt in No Telephone to Heaven (http://www.wmich.edu/dialogues/texts/notelephonetoheaven.html)
by Clare (Note 1). Actually, Cartelli relates Clare to Miranda in her search
for identity (Note 2). Clare decides not to use the
privilege her light skin affords her and embraces the "Caliban [or the Savage] within." This makes one wonder which one Clare is closer to, Miranda or Caliban?
use of a strong, militant black man in Caliban shows similarities with
C.L.R. James. Caliban's denial of his name and opting to go with "X"
instead, much like Malcolm X to
This play is obviously
connected to Shakespeare's The Tempest which is seen more mainstream than
perhaps this play would be. This would make it easier to pull the ideas
A Tempest presents,
There is more information on Michelle Cliff and No Telephone to Heaven in
the webpage on this site by Mickey D'Loughy. The slightly stronger Miranda
in A Tempest as opposed to the one in The
Tempest shows a closer resemblence to Clare Savage. They both seem to be searching for identity of their own instead of the one imposed on them by their parents.
2. Cartelli paints Clare Savage as a new world Miranda "as the self-determining agent of their own education".
3. Rider points this out in his webpage http://www.wdog.com/rider/writings/butterfly_tempest.htm This page is worth looking at for this point of view.
This site compares M. Butterfly
This page is a comprehensive look at Cesaire's life. It
Postcolonial Theory Link:
This site is a quick look at imperialism
am currently using A Tempest in a high school English class in comparison
The Tempest. My students are loving it because it is easier for them to read, but they are asking questions about it because it is different than the original, which is good because that is what I want them to do. We have great conversations about the difference between the two Calibans. They seem to like the one in Cesaire's play better.
Aime. A Tempest. New York: Editions du Seuil, 1992.
Retamar, Roberto Fernandez. "Caliban: Notes Toward a Discussion of Culture in Our America," in Caliban and Other Essays. Minneapolis : University of Minnesota Press, 1989.
Rodo, Jose Enrique. Ariel. Cambridge : Cambridge U.P., 1967.
Cartelli, Thomas. "After The Tempest: Shakespeare, postcoloniality, and Michele Cliff's new, new world Miranda." Contemporary Literature v36n1 (Spring 1995): 82-102.