The French Atlantic Triangle: Literature and Culture of the Slave Trade

Duke University Press, 2008 M01 11 - 592 páginas
The French slave trade forced more than one million Africans across the Atlantic to the islands of the Caribbean. It enabled France to establish Saint-Domingue, the single richest colony on earth, and it connected France, Africa, and the Caribbean permanently. Yet the impact of the slave trade on the cultures of France and its colonies has received surprisingly little attention. Until recently, France had not publicly acknowledged its history as a major slave-trading power. The distinguished scholar Christopher L. Miller proposes a thorough assessment of the French slave trade and its cultural ramifications, in a broad, circum-Atlantic inquiry. This magisterial work is the first comprehensive examination of the French Atlantic slave trade and its consequences as represented in the history, literature, and film of France and its former colonies in Africa and the Caribbean.

Miller offers a historical introduction to the cultural and economic dynamics of the French slave trade, and he shows how Enlightenment thinkers such as Montesquieu and Voltaire mused about the enslavement of Africans, while Rousseau ignored it. He follows the twists and turns of attitude regarding the slave trade through the works of late-eighteenth- and early-nineteenth-century French writers, including Olympe de Gouges, Madame de Staël, Madame de Duras, Prosper Mérimée, and Eugène Sue. For these authors, the slave trade was variously an object of sentiment, a moral conundrum, or an entertaining high-seas “adventure.” Turning to twentieth-century literature and film, Miller describes how artists from Africa and the Caribbean—including the writers Aimé Césaire, Maryse Condé, and Edouard Glissant, and the filmmakers Ousmane Sembene, Guy Deslauriers, and Roger Gnoan M’Bala—have confronted the aftermath of France’s slave trade, attempting to bridge the gaps between silence and disclosure, forgetfulness and memory.


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Part One The French Atlantic
ONE Introduction
TWO Around the Triangle
THREE The Slave Trade in the Enlightenment
FOUR The Veeritions of History
Revolution Abolitionist Translation Sentiment 17831823
Restoration Abolition Entertainment
Concatenations of Revolt
Baron Roger and the New Africa
ELEVEN Homosociality Reckoning and Recognition in Eugène Sues AtarGull
TWELVE Edouard Corbière Mating and Maritime Adventure
Part Four The Triangle from Below
FOURTEEN African Silence
Reckoning Reparation and the Value of Fictions

FIVE Gendering Abolitionism
SIX Olympe de Gouges Earwitness to the Ills of America
Atlantic Memories
EIGHT Duras and Her Ourika The Ultimate House Slave
Conclusion to Part Two

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Acerca del autor (2008)

Christopher L. Miller is Frederick Clifford Ford Professor of African American Studies and French at Yale University. He is the author of Nationalists and Nomads: Essays on Francophone African Literature and Culture; Theories of Africans: Francophone Literature and Anthropology in Africa; and Blank Darkness: Africanist Discourse in French.

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