This essay examines the second installment of Martinican author Patrick Chamoiseau’s trilogy Une enfance créole, using Chemin-d’école to consider how writers from the Caribbean may deploy magic in their texts in alternative ways to the magical realist mode, which critics have argued often reinforces a false dichotomy between a rational “West” and its irrational “others.” Specifically, Chamoiseau’s memoir both portrays creole magical beliefs as a vehicle through which its school-aged protagonists resist the ideology of neocolonial pedagogies, and it consistently refers to aspects of French civilization through the lens of the magical or marvelous. Ultimately, this essay argues, Chemin-d’école looks beyond magical motifs as mere emblems of tradition or authenticity. Using them instead to portray the neocolonial “civilizing mission” as its own form of magical thinking, the narration destabilizes the very ideas of the essential difference of Caribbean cultures and of the purported rationality of the West.

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