This essay introduces the central themes of “Rethinking Césaire,” a special section of Small Axe, which gravitate in metacritical fashion around the various efforts to refashion Aimé Césaire's legacy in and around 2013, the centenary of his birth. Included are essays devoted to Césaire's poetic legacy, his theory of Negritude, his relationship to Marxism, and his intellectual partnership with his wife, Suzanne Césaire. What emerges is a sense of Césaire's legacy as a living legacy, firmly rooted in a specific historical context but revealing different facets of its structure to successive generations as they seek to understand it in relation to their own preoccupations and challenges.

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