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Please suggest themes you'd like to see covered here! Cut and paste the following into a comment:

ETA: please put your theme in the subject of your comment!

Are you prepared to run it? Yes/No
Suggested books, if you have them already:

What does it mean to run the theme?

1. At least one month in advance, you'll let everyone know about the theme and your suggested reading for it. You need to suggest at least 3 works of fiction.
2. On the first of the month, you will post a welcome/introduction/kickoff for the theme.
3. Throughout the month, you'll take an active part in discussion of the theme.

You do not have to be an expert on the theme to run it. You just need to have an interest in it.

The Caribbean

Date: 2009-06-01 05:55 pm (UTC)
al_zorra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] al_zorra
I am willing to run it.

Theme: From the first voyage of Columbus the Caribbean was the colonial cross-roads of the world for many centuries.

The Spanish Empire flotas were two: the one that carried New World gold and silver to Spain, that gathered first in Vera Cruz (Mexico); and the flota gathered in the Philippines that brought Asian luxury goods to Spain. These goods were paid for by New World silver -- most of the New World silver extracted from Latin America ended up in China. Both Flotas had to stop in Havana waiting for the winds that would carry them to Spain. This is why the Golden Age of Piracy is located in this region.

In early America the golden triangle of mercantile trade (including slaves) was New Orleans, Havana and Haiti.

The Haitian Revolution was a bomb that exploded Haitian culture throughout the Antilles, into South America and North America, via the diapora of fleeing planters with their slaves and the free people of color, also, often, with their slaves. The failure of the Napoleon and Britian to take back Haiti from the revolutionaries led to the Louisiana Purchase. The success of the Haitian Revolution terrified the nascent US, with consequences both positive and negative for North American slaves. The Haitian planters' choice of slaves to take with them often had to be triaged, thus those who arrived in New Orleans brought by far more women and children than men.

From the above you can see why New Orleans needs to be included in this look at historical fiction that deals with the Caribbean.

Haiti was written out of history in the U.S. until the 1930's. The same thing happened later with Cuba with the Revolution. We have two mysterious islands that previous to displeasing the U.S. were intimately connected to this country.


Treasure Island - Robert Louis Stevenson (forever etched in the minds of so many as THE idea of the Golden Age of Piracy pirates)

The Fortunes of Captain Blood - Rafael Sabatini (slavery of whites and blacks in the 17th C British West Indies)

The Golden Hawk - Frank Yerby (very much about Vera Cruz and pirates in the 17th C, written by an African American historical novelist, with a terrific black hero, as well as a blonde one)

Old Creole Days - George Washington Cable (New Orleans custom of placage and the local definition - meaning of 'creole', among other things -- to this day the author is considered a traitor to New Orleans by a certain class)

I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem (a slave transported from her Caribbean home to Salem, and back again), Tree of Life (an entwined family tree in Guadeloupe) - Maryse Condé

Firefly Summer - Pura Belpré (YA - At a plantation in rural Puerto Rico around the turn of the century the foreman pursues the mystery surrounding his family).

Caribbean - James Michener (an attempt to do a pan-regional history, which fails on many levels, particualarly as he ignores the Spanish Antilles almost entirely, and concentrates hard on the British islands, with some French; as far as I've been able to determine though, for instance his telling of what happened on Guadeloupe and Martinique (from where came Napoleon's Empress Josephine; btw Dumas's grandfather was a free black born in Haiti).

The Farming of Bones - Edwidge Danticat* (two lovers separated by the massacre of Haitian cane cutter-salves in 1937 in the Dominican Republic)

The Book of Night Women - Marlon James* (slavery in Jamaica in the 18th & 19th centuries)

Explosion In A Cathedral - Alejo Carpentier (the effect of the Haitian Revolution upon three wealth Cuban orphans in Havana)

All Souls Rising, Master of the Crossroads, The Stone That the Builder Refused -- Madison Smartt Bell* (The Haitian Revolution)

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao - Junot Díaz* (the deconstruction of the real world destruction that the real world evil dark lord of the Dominican Republic wrought via the tropes of SF and F -- the Dominican Republic and Haiti share the same island that was called Hispanola -- Haiti was French and the DR belonged to the Spanish Empire)


The Cuba Journal - Sophia Peabody Hawthorne. Yes, she's the Peabody sister who married Nathanial Hawthorne, though whether she shared his anti-abolitionist attitude or not, I cannot quite determine -- I have come to the conclusion that basically she just didn't care. Slavery was a non-issue for her.

Cuba and Its Music: From the First Drums to the Mambo - Ned Sublette* (starts with the Phoenicians and Africa, ends in 1951 - 1952, as the Revolution looms)

The World That Made New Orleans: From Spanish Silver to Congo Square - Ned Sublette (in several ways this is the continuation of the history of the region that begins in Cuban and Its Music. It actually makes sense for the reader of the extraordinarily complicated Haitian Revolution -- it wasn't unusual to have 5 conflicting sides fighting simulataneously; it's also the only history of New Orleans in print.)

Tell My Horse: Voodoo and Life in Haiti and Jamaica - Zora Neale Hurston (I love this writer -- she wrote While Their Eyes Were Watching God while in Haiti. But I don't like this book very much. But no one I know, who knows Haiti and Haitian vodún too, has read it, so I've never had anyone to bounce this off of. Among other problems I find with this book, Hurston seems to think that Haitian vodún is the same as New Orleans voodoo -- and they are not -- for reasons that have a great deal to do with almost only women and children being brought to New Orleans by the St. Dominge planters fleeing the Haitian Revolution.

A Caribbean map.

Almost all of these works have e-editions in some form. The swashbucklers have had movies made from them.

I could also do a music list.

* I have a personal relationship with the stared writers; Ned Sublette and I have been married forever. I performed an enormous amount of the research in these books; a significant portion of the text in TWTMNO is mine too, he says.

Love, C.

Re: The Caribbean

Date: 2009-06-01 06:16 pm (UTC)
al_zorra: (Default)
From: [personal profile] al_zorra
O yeah, this is way too big.

But I wanted to provide an idea of the different areas.

A lot of people don't even know what we mean when we say "The Caribbean" or "The Antilles." Yet this region has had a profound global significance and effect.

Plus I wanted to show the swashbuckling side! Coz, you know, so much of this history as history (as opposed to culture) is pretty dayemed grim.

Love, C


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