19th Century Haitian Novel

Luis Duno-Gottberg

in Latin American Studies

ISBN: 9780199766581
Published online October 2011 | | DOI:
19th Century Haitian Novel

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Nineteenth-century Haitian novels, with their underscored relevance for the history of the Caribbean and Latin America, constitute a small body of literature as a result of three distinct challenges: the small number of novels published, the inaccessibility of primary sources, and the tendency of several novelists to develop stories far removed from Haitian realities. It must be added that 19th-century Haitian novels were written entirely in French, and they closely followed the aesthetic models of the former colonial metropolis. Honoré de Balzac, Victor Hugo, and Émile Zola often come to mind when reading some of these novels. Haitian Creole had been present in poetry since the late 18th century, but it was not widely used in any major novel until two centuries later. Despite its shortcomings, the 19th-century Haitian novel constitutes a valuable window into the complex development of a national literature under the pressures of the postcolonial order. These works are not only important primary sources for exploring the origins of Haiti’s literary tradition but also provide insight into matters of race, transculturation, nationalism, and cultural dependency.

Article.  6004 words. 

Subjects: Regional and Area Studies ; History of the Americas

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