Date of Award

January 1942

Degree Type

Dissertation/Thesis

Abstract

In 1940-1941, the writer visited Haiti and became acquainted with some of its more recent literature. As a result of a special interest in modern authors and their works, five outstanding novels published in the 1931-1939 period were chosen as suitable material for this thesis. All of these novels present various phases of peasant life. This is a new trend in Haitian fiction for during the nineteenth century, writers were concerned, for the most part, with the elite. Since no other study, to the writer's knowledge, has been made on the subject of the Haitian peasant novel, it is hoped that this one will inspire others to delve deeper into the field. The Negro republic is preeminently an agricultural country, and the peasant is the backbone of the Haitian people. For that reason, the first chapter traces the background of the peasant, his educational opportunities, and his final possession of the land. A brief sketch of the development of Haitian literature is also given. Chapter II discusses the novels in general, with special emphasis on style, plot, and characters. Inasmuch as the four authors, like all Haitian writers, are totally unknown in this country, short biographies are included. Physical aspects of peasant life occupy the center of interest in Chapter III. Appearance, dress, home, food, and economic conditions are treated under this heading. Chapter IV discusses the novelists' presentation of social phases of peasant life: births, funerals, marriages, religions, superstitions, celebrations and feasts. Chapter V is a summary of the most important findings of the study. First editions of all primary sources have been used, with the exception of Mimola, by Antoine Innocent; only the second edition of this novel was available.

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