LIVRE EN ANGLAIS
« The green paradise of children’s love-stories », as Baudelaire writes in « Spleen et Ideal ». When reading Robert Romney’s »King of the « Rock »,one would be tempted to add « teen-agers » to his narrative, love-stories and memories of childhood and adolescence, love-stories of places and beings, nostalgia of a time when a generation of youngsters would meet around a privileged place « Big Rock » and « Sandy Ground », the centre of an exceptional universe, a microcosm for schoolboys and girls meeting around picturesque and attractive characters, such as fishermen, farmers, cattle-breeders, school-mistresses, shopkeepers.
The nostalgia that permeates the narrative also generates and develops the consciousness of a geographical and linguistic identity, the feeling of belonging to a distinct and specific creole-speaking community- the « St Martiners »with their peculiarities and the originality of a language proper to their island and very different from the other creoles of the Caribbean. The assertion of this linguistic identification is conveyed through discussions and exchanges- sometimes naive, sometimes cultural-, and musical or literary references, in which the participants rival, defy each other and communicate a world of popular or cultural knowledge, in which a whole part of Caribbean culture comes to the surface.
A wide scope of the popular culture of English- and French speaking West Indies opens before our eyes, amply based on the various stages of colonization and local history. Big Rock permanently appears as the crucible of St Martin’s identity, coming in full light on the National Day of July 14. The teen-agers, boys and girls assert and display their feelings and emotions, their impulses and their modesty.. A long cultural exchange starts between Willy and Cathy, deepening their idyll which goes on until the end of the summer holiday.Their exchange reveals a considerable amount of literary quotations betraying the wide culture of our author.
At the end of this St Martin sequence, we can only invite Robert Romney to pursue the narrative of this love-story of teen-agers beyond seas and school-years…
What will Cathy and Willy’s epistolary exchanges become ? Are they bound to meet again or was it only a summer infatuation ? The next chronicle may well tell us.
Beyond the emotional and nostalgic narrative, there will remain a heartfelt analysis of the linguistic peculiarities of St Martin island and the assertion of an authentic identity.
Former Professor at the University of Pau, France