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The Use of Haiti’s Henri Christophe in the Work of Derek Walcott, Aimé Césaire, and Alejo Carpentier, and his Visual Representation in the Melodramatic Mexican Comic Book Fuego

Enrique García
Article paru dans Paroles, textes et images: formes et pouvoirs de l’imaginaire. Vol. 1, sous la responsabilité de Jean-François Chassay et Bertrand Gervais (2008)

Henri Christophe was one of Haiti’s most important nationalist and revolutionary figures in the 19th century. His life has been portrayed in different ways by acclaimed writers from the Caribbean such as Cuban Alejo Carpentier, Nobel Prize winner St. Lucian Derek Walcott, and Martinican Aimé Césaire. These acclaimed literary figures transformed this historical figure into the aestheticized protagonist of narratives that represented their own cultural and sociological ideas about the Caribbean. Carpentier used Christophe’s decaying kingdom in the novel Kingdom of this World [El reino de este mundo, 1949] to develop his literary and cultural concept of the Caribbean “marvelous real.” Walcott used him in his plays, known as The Haitian Trilogy, to create a Shakespearean tragic model that criticizes the excesses of Afro-Caribbean nationalism, and Césaire wrote The Tragedy of Henri Christophe to reflect his own Marxist position that attributed Christophe’s failure to the Haitian’s ‘Eurocentric’ and ‘bourgeois’ attitudes. Scholars researching Caribbean culture and history are likely to have become familiar with at least one of these undoubtedly significant texts that are widely read in academic circles around the world. However, all three texts are examples of “high literature,” and they may not be easily accessible to mass audiences.

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