Day 6: 🇭🇹 Dance on the Volcano

Observations:

Originally published in 1957 in French, this edition was translated by Kaiama L. Glover, a beautiful translation I may add. It was published in 2016 by Archipelago Books. I loved it, a period romp in places and at other times, a devastating tale of the impact colonialism has on nations like Haiti.

In a Nutshell:

Dance on the Volcano is the story of Minette, a mixed-race woman with an extraordinary talent. She is a gifted singer. Her voice enables her to cross racial barriers when singing. Minette is given the opportunity to perform at the Theater of Port-au-Prince, an honor previously reserved for whites only. However, offstage, she returns to life as she knows it. Her love for the stage battles with her horror at the racial discrimination she faces and her love for a freedman who treats his slaves as cruelly as white planters. As the book progresses, Minette develops a racial and social conscience, which fuels her relationship with the future heroes of the revolution: Rigaud, Pétion and Beauvais.

Themes:

Race, discrimination, gendered roles, freedom, identity, caste and the Haitian revolution.

Quotes:

“They’re afraid of us becoming educated, because education encourages men to revolt. Ignorance continues resignation.”

“And why would I care about the colour of your bloods? I’m not one of those racist French people. The only prejudices my husband and I have are against vulgarity and ugliness.”

Want to read Dance on the Volcano? Buy it here.

Dance on the Volcano

Written by Marie Vieux- Chavet

Translated from the French by Kaiama.L.Glover

08/12/2016, Archipelago Books

ISBN: 9780914671572

#WITMonth for 2021 is curated by Jess Andoh-Thayre

I am 35, from London but currently living in Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Overseas, I have lived in Tanzania, Chile and Spain. I am married to a diplomat and we have been posted in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania and now Phnom Penh, Cambodia. Prior to meeting my husband, I had also lived in La Serena, Chile and Madrid, Spain.

I am a French, Spanish and English teacher, translator, avid reader and now blogger. When I am not teaching, reading and blogging, I love catching a brilliant sunset, swimming and hanging out with my husband and son.

Writer: Marie Vieux-Chavet

Vieux-Chavet was born in Port-au-Prince in 1916. Despite being closely watched by François Duvalier’s regime, Vieux-Chavet chose to stay in Haiti for many years and was a fierce critic of Duvalier’s dictatorship and U.S occupation. Fearing retribution after the 1968 publication of her novel, Love, Anger, Madness, she moved to New York City where she died in 1973.

Translator: Kaiama L. Glover

Kaiama L. Glover is an academic and translator. She is the Ann Whitney Olin Professor of French & Africana Studies at Columbia University and Faculty Director of the Barnard Digital Humanities Center, Columbia University. She received a B.A. in French History and Literature and Afro-American Studies from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in French and Romance Philology from Columbia University.

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