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Œuvres complètes de Jacques Roumain by Léon-François Hoffman; Jacques Roumain

Review by: Jean Jonassaint
Research in African Literatures, Vol. 36, No. 3, Edward Said, Africa, and Cultural Criticism
(Autumn, 2005), pp. 153-154
Published by: Indiana University Press
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3821371 .
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KAIAMA L. GLOVER * 153
Looking
at
nineteenth-century
Cuba,
Fischer
begins
her
inquiry
with the
trial of the free black
antislavery conspirator Jose Aponte
and then continues with a
discussion of Cuban
popular
and elite artistic
expression
of the
period.
In
part
2 of
her
study,
she uses a
psychoanalytic
lens to examine the Dominican
response
to the
trauma of
"having
been modernized
by
those who were meant to be slaves"
(168).
The third and final
part
of Fischer's
study
concerns Haiti itself. Here Fischer sets out
to counter
past
dismissiveness and to establish the Haitian Revolution as intrinsi-
cally
modern.
Emphasizing
the
complexity
of Haiti's
postrevolutionary agenda?its
juxtaposing
of universalism and
particularism, engagement
in acts of
renaming,
and
explicit politicization
of racial
categories?Fischer
reveals the at once
republican
and
pan-Africanist objectives
at the heart of Haitian nationalism. In
effect,
Modernity
Disavowed reconciles these and other strands of Haitian
modernity, highlighting
the
Revolution's
profound
historical resonance and
refusing
to
accept
the
long history
of its disavowal.
?Kaiama L. Glover
Barnard
College,
Columbia University
CEuvres
completes
de
Jacques
Roumain
Ed.
Leon-Frangois
Hoffman
Collection Archivos. Madrid:
UNESCO,
2003.
li + 1690
pp.
ISBN 84-89666-68-7 cloth.
The
publication
of the critical edition of
Jacques
Roumain's
complete
works is the
great literary
event of the Haitian Revolution
bicentennial,
and one of the most
sig?
nificant achievements of
francophone
studies in 2003-04.
Indeed,
the release of those
1700
pages
in the
prestigious
collection
"Archivos,"
until now devoted to
Spanish
and
Portuguese
Latin-American
writers,
is a
first,
but also a tribute to one of the oldest
American literatures in Latin
languages
as well to a model Caribbean writer.
This monumental
publication
is even more
important
in that it allows access
for the first time not
only
to Roumain's
complete published
works,
but also to
unpub?
lished
poems
and
tales,
a
great part
of his
correspondence,
and so
many
rare texts
scattered about in
newspapers
or
journals
of his time. To this set of
primary
texts
is added an
important
number of critical texts on Roumain
by
Haitians and
foreign
nationals,
presented
at the end of the volume under the title "Dossier de l'oeuvre."
There,
one
finds,
among
others,
the
complete
text of the famous book of
1974,
Sur
Gouverneurs de la Rosee de
facques
Roumain
by Jean-Claude Fignole,
and its 1975
review
by
the Haitian
journalist
and activist
Jean
Dominique,
"Delire ou delivrance."
In
addition,
we find an incredible number of comments on Roumain's work or life that
are of
great
historical
interest,
such as those
by Stephen
Alexis, Frangois Duvalier,
Anthony Lespes,
Alfred
Metraux,
Langston Hughes,
and Anna
Seghers.
This section
together
with the one entitled "Lectures du
texte,"
which
brings together unpublished
studies
by Jean
Michael
Dash,
Andre-Marcel
dAns,
and Alessandro
Costantiti,
is
surely
one of the most useful and
impressive
of this book.
Finally,
one must
highlight
the articles
by
Yasmina
Tippenhauer
and
Regis
Antoine on Roumain's
reception
in
154 * RESEARCH IN AFRICAN LITERATURES
Haiti and France in the section "Histoire du
texte,"
where we can also find an article
by
Ulrich
Fleishmann,
"Jacques
Roumain dans la litterature d'Haiti."
Up
to a certain
point,
those studies are successful in
resituating
Roumain in Haitian and French
literary
contexts.
This
important enterprise,
like
any
other,
is not
perfect.
A few remarks or
footnotes are not
always
accurate,
showing
a certain
ignorance
of some subtleties of
Haitian
expressions,
but
mainly
the weaknesses of Caribbean
francophone literary
studies,
which suffer from a terrible lack of reliable reference books. For
example,
one
can cite the footnote
by
Fleischmann on the
patronymics
of Fernand Hibbert's novel
Sena
(p.
1240,
note
28)
and most
obviously
the remarks
by
Hoffmann on Roumain's
title Gouverneurs de la Rosee
(pp.
257-58),
which the critic
argues wrongly
to be a
calque
of a rural Haitian
expression,
met
lawouze.
Finally,
it is
quite regrettable
that we do not have a table of concordances of
even the main editions of the famous works
by
Roumain,
or even a
general
index of
the volume.
Despite
those
reservations,
when we understand the
many
obstacles in
attempting
to show
any
Haitian
achievement,
we should not underestimate the value
of this
premiere
in
francophone
studies or the determination ofthe scholars in
charge
of Archivos and this volume.
?Jean Jonassaint
Duke University
Writing
in Crisis: Ethics and
History
in
Gordimer,
Ndebele and Coetzee
By
Stefan
Helgesson
Scottsville: U of KwaZulu
P,
2004.
ISBN 1-86914-044-3.
The most conflict-ridden decade in the
fraught history
of
apartheid
South Africa was
the
1980s,
and
many
works of fiction reflected the violent conditions
directly
and
powerfully.
But literature can do more than reflect external
events,
and in this astute
study
of three writers of the
period,
Stefan
Helgesson argues
that some
novels,
by
the
inventive use of
generic
and formal
properties, opened
a
space
that,
while
remaining
responsive
to the effects of the formidable historical
pressures
of the
time,
was not
entirely subject
to them. In order to
pursue
this
argument
with the
necessary degree
of close textual
analysis, Helgesson
examines one novel
by
each of the three writers:
Njabulo
Ndebele's Fools and Other Stories
(1983),
Nadine Gordimer's A
Sport of
Nature
(1987),
and
J.
M. Coetzee's
Life
and Times
of
Michael K
(1983).
In an
introductory
section,
Helgesson presents
the theoretical armature of his
approach, holding
that
"history"
and
"writing"
exist in tension with one
another,
with
the latter
seeking
to resist not
just
the discourse of
history
but its own
historicity.
One
important way
in which it does this?at least in the novels under discussion?is
through
the
body's
resistance to the racist constructions
placed upon
it. This resis-
tant
body
is marked
by
what
Helgesson
calls
"blankness,"
a
quality
he relates
closely
to
ambivalence, catachresis,
and
irony?all ways
in which the
body,
as
represented

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