A new, 2017 edition of Jacques Roumain’s Masters of the Dew [Gouveneurs de la Rosée] translated by Langston Hughes and Mercer Cook, with introduction by Michael J. Dash, is not available Caribbean Studies Press.
Description: Masters of the Dew tells of the traditional rural life and people of Haiti, dominated by the natural world. This is a deeply powerful story of the harsh existence of peasant farmers struggling in a world both beautiful and unforgiving. The tale begins with the return of Manuel, a prodigal son, to his aging parents’ homestead and the realities of subsistence agriculture in a drought-stricken region. He brings new ideas, with the potential to transform the lives of people in the community. He encounters old feuds and resistance to change but he persists, and his determination to bring the people of the village together to improve their lives leads to a dramatic conclusion in this story of redemption.
From the introduction: “While the action of the novel is sited in an isolated Haitian village, Fonds Rouge is not on the margins but implicated in the warped space of a new economic order structured by global capitalism. As much as anything else, Roumain’s novel is not just about the Haitian soul but a New World space in which the modern, materialist mind could emerge. Manuel is the incarnation of a new scientific, secular conception of knowledge based on observation and not tradition. The new model of knowing that he brings to Fonds Rouge is based on pragmatism and experience.”
Jacques Roumain is a critical figure in the development of Haitian literature and culture in the 20th century. This novel, originally written in French, was translated in the 1930s by the noted Harlem Renaissance poet and author Langston Hughes and by Mercer Cook, professor and chair of Romance languages at Howard University, who also taught at the University of Haiti, in Port-au-Prince.
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