This first biography in forty years of Haitian public intellectual and writer, Jacques Roumain (1907–1944), explores his brief life within the context of his times—the American Occupation of Haiti, the rise of fascism in Europe, racism in the U.S., and Marxism. An articulate witness and activist, Roumain exposed injustice through poetry, essays, novels, and short fiction. His political thought emerges through these works, several of which are included here in English translation.
Though best known in the U.S. as author of Masters of the Dew, Roumain was more than a literary writer. This thorough examination of his life, based on extensive archival research, retraces his formative years in Haiti and Europe, his study of ethnology in Paris, and periods of enforced exile in Europe, Harlem, Cuba, and Mexico. His close relationship with his wife Nicole is illuminated through passages of his letters to her, published here in English for the first time. This engagingly written biography presents the first full picture of this remarkable Haitian to Anglophone readers.
Marxsen’s excellent prose does justice to an iconic, monumental figure, Haiti’s renaissance man who changed the course of his country’s intellectual life, Jacques Roumain. This is the biography we yearned for. A superb book. — Patrick Bellegarde- Smith, author of In the Shadow of Powers: Dantès Bellegarde in Haitian Social Thought
Marxsen carefully traces the myriad intellectual, cultural, and political influences on the great Haitian writer and activist, whose singular concern is political freedom and economic justice for all Haitians. Roumain emerges as a complex and cosmopolitan man of the world who remains a relentless advocate for the Haitian people and nation. —Gwen Bergner, associate professor English, West Virginia University
Appealingly written and meticulously organized, Patti Marxsen’s biography is an enormously valuable contribution to our understanding of one of Haiti’s most important writers and widest ranging intellectual nomads. May it bring Jacques Roumain the Anglophone audience he deserves! —Madison Smartt Bell, professor of English, Goucher College, author of Toussaint Louverture: A Biography.
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322pp., 19 b & w illustrations
Cat #: CSP 0118