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Contes d'une grand-mère louisianaise. Sidonie de La Houssaye. Introduction and notes by Jonathan Vidrine.

ISBN: 978-0-9754244-1-4.
$15.50

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Contes d'une grand-mère louisianaise. Sidonie de La Houssaye. Introduction and notes by Jonathan Vidrine.

   “You are familiar with my circumstances, my dear sir; my pen is my livelihood, as
well as my childrens’,” Sidonie de La Houssaye confided to George Washington Cable in 1884. If this simple statement did nothing more than show the fortitude of a desperate widow, it would already be worthy of note. However, de La Houssaye offers a glimpse of her steadfast determination to carve out a niche for herself among French-speaking writers of the New World. Throughout her life, buffeted repeatedly by reversals of fate and fortune, she held fast to the two duties most sacred to her: raising her orphaned grandchildren and writing.
   The anthology, Contes d’une grand-mère louisianaise, transcribed, edited and presented by Jonathan Vidrine, unites Sidonie de La Houssaye’s twin passions. Underneath the hard exterior of a rough and tumble schoolmarm, de La Houssaye, nurtured an audacious literary imagination that produced such daring works as her Quarteronnes de la Nouvelle-Orléans. While her stories written to teach her young students to read leave behind the shocking themes found in her Quarteronnes, her social vision remains unchanged. Antiracist and proto-feminist, de La Houssaye sought to inculcate in her young readers values that were threatened by southern conservatism, American capitalism, and crushing poverty. From her “Petits Soldats” to her “Petits Vagabonds,” empathy and a quest for egalitarian ideals triumph over avariciousness, cruelty and disloyalty. Perhaps the greatest merit of these Contes d’une grand-mère louisianaise is that they distill to the purest and most moving form the notions of social justice that characterize de La Houssaye’s work. In this, they offer us a key to understanding the entire œuvre of this prolific Creole writer.