Haiti, History, and the Gods

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Overview

In Haiti, History, and the Gods Joan Dayan charts the cultural imagination of Haiti not only by reconstructing the island's history but by highlighting ambiguities and complexities that have been ignored. She investigates the confrontational space in which Haiti is created and recreated in fiction and fact, text and ritual, discourse and practice. Dayan's ambitious project is a research tour de force that gives human dimensions to this eighteenth-century French colony and provides a template for understanding the Haiti of today. In examining the complex social fabric of French Saint-Domingue, which in 1804 became Haiti, Dayan uncovers a silenced, submerged past. Instead of relying on familiar sources to reconstruct Haitian history, she uses a startling diversity of voices that have previously been unheard. Many of the materials recovered here—overlooked or repressed historical texts, legal documents, religious works, secret memoirs, letters, and literary fictions—have never been translated into English. Others, such as Marie Vieux Chauvet's radical novel of vodou, Fonds des Nègres, are seldom used as historical sources. Dayan also argues provocatively for the consideration of both vodou rituals and narrative fiction as repositories of history. Her scholarship is enriched by the insights she has gleaned from conversations and experiences during her many trips to Haiti over the past twenty years. Taken together, the material presented in Haiti, History, and the Gods not only restores a lost chapter of Haitian history but suggests necessary revisions to the accepted histories of the New World.

Author Biography: Joan Dayan, Professor of English at the Universityof Arizona, is the author of Fables of Mind: An Inquiry into Poe's Fiction (1987) and A Rainbow for the Christian West (1977).

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Dayan (English, U. of Arizona) bypasses the conventional sources and reconstructs a vision of the French colony Dominigue, which became the republic of Haiti in 1804, by drawing on little known texts and present day practices that originated during that period. Voodoo spells and fiction join repressed histories, legal documents, religious works, secret memoirs, and letters to construct a cultural heritage that links the past with the present. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780520213685
  • Publisher: University of California Press
  • Publication date: 3/10/1998
  • Series: Centennial Book Series
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 362
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author


Joan Dayan, Professor of English at the University of Arizona, is the author of Fables of Mind: An Inquiry into Poe's Fiction (1987) and A Rainbow for the Christian West (1977).
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Table of Contents

Prologue
Acknowledgments
Note on Orthography
Pt. 1 Rituals of History 3
Pt. 2 Fictions of Haiti 77
Pt. 3 Last Days of Saint-Domingue 143
Pt. 4 Gothic Americas 187
Chronology 267
Notes 287
Index 329
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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Posted April 6, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    Great Cultural Introduction to Haiti.

    This book is a very well written book good for the scholar or the layman. The author gives you a complete historical background on the Haitian revolution and everything sorounding the circumstances that lead to the creation of the first Black Republic in the Western Hemisphere.

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