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Le Macandal. Marie Augustin. Text edited in French by Lindsey Monds.

ISBN: 978-0-98920558-5-4. $15.50

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Le Macandal. Marie Augustin. Text edited by Lindsey Monds. French edition.

      Incorporating memories passed from generation to generation in a family of Saint-Domingue refugees and racial stereotypes and literary conventions from her social milieu and time, Marie Augustin constructs a dramatic work of historical fiction about an imagined episode of the Haitian revolution. Many of the white and black actors of the French and Haitian revolutions appear in her novel, among others, Mirabeau, Marat, Ogé, Chavannes, Boukman, Toussaint-Louverture, Dessalines, Rigaud. At the date of 1870 on the title page, the author was only 19 and New Orleans was in the middle of the Radical Reconstruction.
     François Macandal is an African Maroon slave said to have plotted to poison all whites in Saint-Domingue. He was captured and burned at the stake in 1758, but became a legend embodying hopes and fears of slave revolt in French slave colonies. Despite the date in the book, 1793, the novel is set on the eve of the slave uprising in the north province around Le Cap in August 1791 and contains a version of the Bois-Caïman ceremony, an important symbolic if not real event. Marie Augustin creates two characters through whom Macandal lives on: Wamba, his wife, and Dominique, his son. The former, a Vodou priestess, harangues the assembled blacks: “They have whipped you – you will whip them; they have burned you, you will burn them; they have made your blood flow, it’s your turn now, oh my children! Macandal promised it to you, you will drink the blood of your torturers.” This is an example of the terrifying image of vengeful insurgent African slaves found in many colonial texts, against which Marie Augustin expresses her preference for the alternative offered by Toussaint-Louverture’s moderation, larger vision of the physical and moral emancipation of his race, and solicitude for whites.
                              Paul LACHANCE
                              University of Ottawa