I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

Overview

This wild and entertaining novel expands on the true story of the West Indian slave Tituba, who was accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, arrested in 1692, and forgotten in jail until the general amnesty for witches two years later. Maryse Condé brings Tituba out of historical silence and creates for her a fictional childhood, adolescence, and old age. She turns her into what she calls "a sort of female hero, an epic heroine, like the legendary ‘Nanny of the maroons,’" who, schooled in the sorcery and ...

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Overview

This wild and entertaining novel expands on the true story of the West Indian slave Tituba, who was accused of witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts, arrested in 1692, and forgotten in jail until the general amnesty for witches two years later. Maryse Condé brings Tituba out of historical silence and creates for her a fictional childhood, adolescence, and old age. She turns her into what she calls "a sort of female hero, an epic heroine, like the legendary ‘Nanny of the maroons,’" who, schooled in the sorcery and magical ritual of obeah, is arrested for healing members of the family that owns her.

CARAF Books:Caribbean and African Literature Translated from French

This book has been supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agencY.

University of Virginia Press

The acclaimed author of Tree of Life captures the Salem witch trials from a unique and powerful perspective. Blessed with the gift of healing, Tituba's all-consuming love leads her into slavery and to Salem, Massachusetts, where she succumbs to the lies and accusations of a hysterical time.

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Editorial Reviews

New York Times Book Review
"In less sure hands, this short, powerful novel, which won France’s Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme in 1986, might well have become merely an extended denunciation of a perverted and evil society. What makes it larger and richer are Ms. Condé’s gift for storytelling and her unswerving focus on her characters, combined with her mordant sense of humor."
Choice

"Condé is one of the most prolific writers of the Caribbean and perhaps the most powerful woman’s voice in contemporary literature of the Americas. Her interpretation of the Salem witch trials, recast from her own dreams, is a remarkable work of historical fiction that is a haunting and powerful reminder of the dangers of intolerance of differences."

Boston Sunday Globe
"Maryse Condé’s imaginative subversion of historical records forms a critique of contemporary American society and its ingrained racism and sexism that is as discomfiting as Arthur Miller’s critique, based on the same historical material, of McCarthyism and 1950s America in his play ‘The Crucible.’"
Choice
"Condé is one of the most prolific writers of the Caribbean and perhaps the most powerful woman’s voice in contemporary literature of the Americas. Her interpretation of the Salem witch trials, recast from her own dreams, is a remarkable work of historical fiction that is a haunting and powerful reminder of the dangers of intolerance of differences."
New York Times Book Review

"In less sure hands, this short, powerful novel, which won France’s Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme in 1986, might well have become merely an extended denunciation of a perverted and evil society. What makes it larger and richer are Ms. Condé’s gift for storytelling and her unswerving focus on her characters, combined with her mordant sense of humor."

Choice

"Condé is one of the most prolific writers of the Caribbean and perhaps the most powerful woman’s voice in contemporary literature of the Americas. Her interpretation of the Salem witch trials, recast from her own dreams,
is a remarkable work of historical fiction that is a haunting and powerful reminder of the dangers of intolerance of differences."

Boston Sunday Globe

"Maryse Condé’s imaginative subversion of historical records forms a critique of contemporary American society and its ingrained racism and sexism that is as discomfiting as Arthur Miller’s critique, based on the same historical material, of McCarthyism and 1950s America in his play ‘The Crucible.’"

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The author of the highly recommended intergenerational saga Tree of Life (Fiction Forecasts, June 29) moves from her native Guadeloupe to colonial New England in this potent novel. Revising the legend of a slave woman accused of practicing witchcraft and imprisoned in Salem, Mass., in 1692, Conde freely imagines Tituba's childhood and old age, endows her with what Davis calls a contemporary social consciousness, and allows her to narrate the tale. Her pointedly political story indicts the Puritans' racism and hypocrisy and their contemporary manifestations. Conceived when an English sailor rapes an Ashanti captive on the slave ship Christ the King , Tituba grows up in Barbados but follows her beloved, John Indian, into servitude in America when he is sold to minister Samuel Parris. Charged with witchcraft when she heals Parris's wife and daughters, she shares a jail cell with Hester Prynne, who helps her plan her testimony before the Salem judges. Eventually reprieved, Tituba is bought by a Jew, himself persecuted, who frees her and gives her passage to Barbados. At once playful and searing, Conde's work critiques ostensibly white, male versions of history and literature by appropriating them. (Sept.)
Library Journal
In 1692, a Barbadian slave named Tituba was arrested for witchcraft in Salem, Massachusetts. From this historical fact, Conde, an acclaimed writer from Guadeloupe, invents Tituba's life story from childhood to old age. As a child, Tituba sees her mother executed. She is then raised by an old woman who teaches her the African art of healing and communicating with spirits. As a young woman, she is sold to a Puritan minister who leaves Barbados for America. Tituba uses her powers for good purposes, including the healing of her master's family. But her powers are misunderstood by the narrow-minded Puritans, who can only associate witchcraft and the blackness of her skin with evil. Far more than an historical novel, Conde's book makes a powerful social statement about hypocrisy, racial injustice, and feminism through the use of postmodern irony. With a foreword by Angela Davis. Highly recommended.-- Joanne Snapp, Virginia Commonwealth Univ., Richmond
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Originally from Guadeloupe, Maryse Condé is Professor Emerita of French and Romance Philology at Columbia University. She is the author of numerous novels, including Heremakhonon, Segu, Crossing the Mangrove, Tales from the Heart, Who Slashed Celanire's Throat?(winner of the 2005 Hurston/Wright Legacy Award for fiction), and The Story of the Cannibal Woman. She now divides her time between New York and Paris. Angela Y. Davis is Professor of History of Consciousness at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Ann Armstrong Scarboro is president of Mosaic Media and producer, with Susan Wilcox of Full Duck Productions, of the series Ethnic Expressions from the Mosaic of the Americas. Richard Philcox is the English-language translator of many of Condé’s novels.

University of Virginia Press

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Sort by: Showing all of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted February 20, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    I,TUTUBA,BLACK WITCH OF SALEM Maryse Conde

    I discovered Tutuba's name in another book about the Salem Witch Trials. I was pleasantly surprised to find this book about her. If you are interested in this period of history, I highly recommend this book.

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