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ebook – Zobel's Forge

ebook – Zobel's Forge

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Charles W. Scheel

Preface by Jenny Zobel

This book is a compilation of articles and short stories by Joseph Zobel, when he was a journalist reporter for Le Sportif de Fort-de-France, in the 1950s. A young writer in the making, he already revealed himself, in these first writings, as an observer lucid and a literary and artistic critic with a confident pen. Its author, Charles W. Scheel, is professor of literature at the University of the West Indies.


From 1938 until 1959, Joseph Zobel wrote stories and reports for Le Sportif de Fort-de-France. The storyteller in love with the people of his native land shines through from his first texts. These already reveal a lucid observer and a literary and artistic critic with a confident pen.

After leaving for France in 1946, Zobel became a reporter for his discovery of Paris and rural France. Like José Hassam, the young hero of La Rue Cases-Nègres , this Martinican writer comes from the very poor black background of the plantations in the south of the island. Like him, he attended secondary school in Fort-de-France and obtained his baccalaureate there.

But if this famous work has become a classic of Caribbean literature, the apprentice-writer Zobel remained to be discovered. Indeed, most of these first articles did not give rise to any subsequent publication. This is done thanks to the meticulous work of collecting and assembling Charles W. Scheel, teacher-researcher at the University of the West Indies.

Le Sportif, a "sports, literary and information weekly" founded by Fierrès Élisabeth, both provided the young Joseph with a corner of the forge in which to work on texts that revealed the extent of his talent and contributed to forging the image of the writer Zobel, by the echo he gave to his nascent work.

Zobel's forge in the magazine Archipélies

My favorite is perhaps the tales, as they were originally published in the newspaper Le Sportif. We breathlessly savor the Zobel, attentive observer of his family, able to restore in a condensed number of words, a Martinique of yesteryear whose minute details, like snapshots of the time, transport us in the uses and through of a time gone by.

The chapter entitled “About Zobel in Le Sportif ” holds my attention no less. It is interested in the modalities of the “local”, national and international reception of the first texts of Zobel, from authentic “pieces”, which reflect Charles Scheel's patient work of collection and research. In this respect, the publication of the article in the newspaper Le Sportif entitled "M'man Tine est morte", is an admirable moment where fiction and reality come together, since the article deals with the death of Joseph's grandmother Zobel, who sees herself identified neither more nor less with the M'man Tine of La Rue Cases-Nègres. »

Corinne Mence-Caster
"Charles Scheel's Forge of Zobel", Archipelias , 7, 2019

Zobel's forge in the journal African Literary Studies

“The book thus shows a varied and deeply humanist work, where the author likes to describe men in their complexity and the simplicity of their existence. We also detect Zobel's interest in local cultural and artistic practices, and the fascination for peasant life to which he pays homage in La Rue Cases-Nègres . The relatively light critical apparatus (no notes), although it allows a fluid reading well suited to an amateur readership, seems a bit weak for an academic audience. The book is nonetheless a valuable tool for them and announces a “larger project – which remains to be carried out – around the Joseph Zobel fund deposited in Martinique in 2015”.

Orane Touzet
African Literary Studies n° 47, 201

ISBN: 9791093143378

Format: ePub

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