Literature Study GuidesThe Wretched Of The Earth

The Wretched of the Earth | Study Guide

Frantz Fanon

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Course Hero. "The Wretched of the Earth Study Guide." January 3, 2019. Accessed July 6, 2020.


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Frantz Fanon

Year published





Nonfiction, Philosophy

At a Glance

The Wretched of the Earth grew out of Fanon's experiences in North Africa in the 1950s and 1960s. During Fanon's time there, the National Liberation Front (FLN) political party led the struggle for Algerian independence. As chief of staff in a psychiatric hospital, Fanon witnessed firsthand the lasting effects of the violent French counterinsurgency efforts. The Wretched of the Earth argues that colonized peoples not only violently throw off their colonial rulers, but that the effects of such violence are long-lasting for both colonizers and colonized. Although the era of intense colonial struggles is over, Fanon's criticisms of postcolonial governments continue to influence the field of postcolonial studies. Postcolonial studies examine the history and continued cultural influence of colonialism. Further, Fanon's analyses of neocolonialism, the system in which colonial powers still dominate their former colonies economically, remain insightful for understanding the socioeconomic chaos in postcolonial countries today.

Perspective and Narrator

The book is narrated in the first person by an omniscient narrator but from alternating perspectives—sometimes a native and sometimes a settler. The author stays primarily in the present tense, confronting readers with the immediacy and timelessness of the narrative.

About the Title

The title The Wretched of the Earth refers to the colonized peoples of the world. The book's French title Les Damnés de la Terre derives from the French version of the communist song "The International," which calls on "the wretched of the Earth" to rise up. The song's first verse in the English language tells "ye prisoners of starvation" to arise. Much like the song, Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth describes how colonized peoples rise up to take back possession of their own nations. Alluding to "The International" also indicates that these new nations will be communist ones.


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