Publication date:02 March 2015
Length of book:163 pages
PublisherUniversity of Exeter Press
This is a new critical edition of an unjustly forgotten drama by Alphonse de Lamartine, written in the early 1840s but only given its first, and last, performance in Paris in 1850. It draws a compelling image of Toussaint Louverture, the father of Haitian Independence. Lamartine proved something of a visionary by stressing his hero’s search for a coherent racial and national ideology, a theme which has become fundamental in Négritude and post-colonial literatures.
This edition is the first to provide a critical apparatus covering the history of the text, the political and social background against which it should be read, the reception of the work from the time of its original performance to today, and to offer notes on the historical figures included in the cast of characters, as well as a selection of variants, explanatory footnotes and an extensive bibliography.
This volume is in the series Textes littéraires/Exeter French Texts. The text, introduction and essential notes are all in French.
Quite rightly, Hoffmann has no illusions about the play as viable theatre. Instead he directs us straight to its interest for us today, the remarkable sensitivity with which Lamartine anticipates Césaire, Senghor and Fanon by creating for Toussaint and his Haitians many of the psychological traits of what will be known as negritude a hundred years later. The play deserves to be better known by students of the latter as well as those—let us hope there are some in the year 2000—still studying Romantic idealism; this impeccable edition is what they need.