The Saint-Domingue Plantation; or, The Insurrection - Cover
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The Saint-Domingue Plantation; or, The Insurrection

A Drama in Five Acts

by Charles de Rémusat translated by Norman R. Shapiro

208 pages / 5.50 x 8.50 inches / 2 Maps

ebook available

French History

  Paperback / 9780807133576 / December 2008

Based on events that began in Saint-Domingue on August 21, 1791, The Saint-Domingue Plantation; or, The Insurrection vividly dramatizes the genesis and outbreak of a slave revolt. When a representative of the French Assemblée nationale, Monsieur de Tendale, arrives at the Valombre family plantation to examine the condition of slaves in Saint-Domingue and to preach their liberation, he sparks a debate among the local curé and the Valombres--Monsieur, Madame, son Léon, and daughter Célestine--who disagree about how slaves should be treated and whether they should be freed. Meanwhile, rebellion brews on the plantation. As the slave revolt unfolds, the play's white hero, Léon, realizes the discrepancy between his liberal political and philosophical ideas and the reality of his family's economic interests. The black hero, Timur, confronts the slaves' bloodthirsty desire to kill the masters, their resistance to his leadership, and the realization that freedom places heavy demands on him and the other insurgents.

Translated into English by Norman R. Shapiro for the first time since its publication in 1825, The Saint-Domingue Plantation addresses a wide range of topics that antislavery activists raised during Charles de Rémusat's time, including antitorture measures, slaves' access to the sacrament of marriage, and religious education. An informative introduction by Doris Y. Kadish places the play in its historic and literary contexts, inviting further discussion and interpretation of this important work.

Charles de Rémusat (1797-1875) was a leading force in the opposition to the Restoration government in the 1820s and to the Second Empire in 1851. He served as an elected member of the Chambre des députés from 1830 to 1848 and again in 1873, as minister of foreign affairs in 1871, and was inducted into the Académie française in 1846. Norman R. Shapiro is professor of romance languages and literatures at Wesleyan University. He has published over two dozen translations from the French, including Creole Echoes: The Francophone Poetry of Nineteenth-Century Louisiana and The Complete Fables of Jean de La Fontaine. Doris Y. Kadish is Distinguished Research Professor of French and Women's Studies at the University of Georgia. Her books include Politicizing Gender: Narrative Strategies in the Aftermath of the French Revolution and Slavery in the Caribbean Francophone World: Distant Voices, Forgotten Acts, Forged Identities.

Norman R. Shapiro is professor of romance languages and literatures at Wesleyan University. He has published over two dozen translations from the French, including Creole Echoes: The Francophone Poetry of Nineteenth-Century Louisiana and The Complete Fables of Jean de la Fontaine.

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