Black Orpheus and Aesthetic Historicism

Marina Paola Banchetti-Robino


This essay offers a novel approach for understanding the poetry of negritude and its role in the struggle for black liberation by appealing to Giambattista Vico’s insights on the historical, cultural, and myth-making function of poetry and of the mythopoetic imagination.  The essay begins with a discussion of Vico’s aesthetic historicism and of his ideas regarding the role of imagination, poetry, and myth-making and then brings these ideas to bear on the discussion of the function of negritude poetry, focusing primarily on the writings of Aimé Césaire and on Jean-Paul Sartre’s essay, Black Orpheus.


Giambattista Vico; aesthetic historicism; Aime Cesaire; Jean-Paul Sartre; Negritude; Existential phenomenology; Francophone poets; Francophone poetry; Frantz Fanon; Leopold Sedar Senghor

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