Marie Vieux Chauvet (1916-1973)

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Today marks the birth of Haitian writer Marie Vieux Chauvet. Marie Chauvet was born in Port-au-Prince on September 16, 1916. Her literary talents had been in evidence since her childhood; from an early age she wrote dramatic sketches which she staged for her family and friends. Although she continued writing theatrical pieces as an adult, her literary reputation rests on her five published novels: Fille d’Haïti (1954), La Danse sur le volcan (1957), Fonds-des-nègres (1960), Amour, Colère et Folie (1968), and Les Rapaces (1986, published posthumously, this novel denounces the early abuses of Jean-Claude Duvalier’s rule).  Her dramatic piece La légende des fleurs, which Chauvet published under the pseudonym Colibri in 1946, has been re-edited this year by Editions Marie Vieux [also see previous post New Edition: Marie Chauvet’s La légende des fleurs].

Her fourth novel, Amour, Colère et Folie, published by Editions Gallimard in Paris with the help of Simone de Beauvoir, forced Chauvet into exile to the United States where she died in 1973. Michelle Bailat-Jones states that, although it is often described as a trilogy, Amour, Colère et Folie “is actually a triptych of three thematically connected novellas.” She explains that “the overarching preoccupation of all three stories centers on the idea of fear as a force of social destruction. [. . .] Even the tightest family unit warps and deforms under the influence of this pervasive fear. The novel’s stories create a three-paneled portrait of what Haitian society had become by the mid 1960s—impoverished, environmentally ravaged, chaotic and violent.” [Also see previous post Love, Anger, Madness: A Haitian Trilogy reviewed.]

Material for this post was taken from Lizabeth Paravisini-Gebert and Olga Torres-Seda’s Caribbean Women Novelists: An Annotated Critical Bibliography (1993), http://quarterlyconversation.com/love-anger-madness-a-haitian-trilogy-by-marie-vieux-chauvet-review and http://www.haitiwebs.com/emagazine/content/view/765/155/lang,en/

Photo from http://www.lenouvelliste.com/article.php?PubID=1&ArticleID=73671&PubDate=2009-08-31

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