Stella, first published in 1859, is an imaginative retelling of Haiti’s fight for independence from slavery and French colonialism. Set during the years of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), Stella tells the story of two brothers, Romulus and Remus, who help transform their homeland from the French colony of Saint-Domingue to the independent republic of Haiti. Inspired by the sacrifice of their African mother Marie and Stella, the spirit of Liberty, Romulus and Remus must learn to work together to found a new country based on the principles of freedom and equality. This new translation and critical edition of Émeric Bergeaud’s allegorical novel makes Stella available to English-speaking audiences for the first time.
Considered the first novel written by a Haitian, Stella tells of the devastation and deprivation that colonialism and slavery wrought upon Bergeaud’s homeland. Unique among nineteenth-century accounts, Stella gives a pro-Haitian version of the Haitian Revolution, a bloody but just struggle that emancipated a people, and it charges future generations with remembering the sacrifices and glory of their victory. Bergeaud's novel demonstrates that the Haitians—not the French—are the true inheritors of the French Revolution, and that Haiti is the realization of its republican ideals. At a time in which Haitian Studies is becoming increasingly important within the English-speaking world, this edition calls attention to the rich though under-examined world of nineteenth-century Haiti.
Contents Editors’ Acknowledgments vii Editors’ Introduction Lesley S. Curtis and Christen Mucher ix Author’s Note 1 To the Reader B. Ardouin 3 STELLA Glossary of Foreign Words and Expressions 185 Original Explanatory Notes 187 Editors’ Notes 191 About the Editors 195
“Sure to have a tremendous impact on the fields of transatlantic, colonial, early American, and Caribbean studies. The voice of Haitians is too often unregistered in scholarly accounts of the history of Haiti. This translation introduces a different and absolutely crucial perspective on the Haitian Revolution—namely, a Haitian perspective.”-Elizabeth Maddock Dillon,author of New World Drama: The Performative Commons in the Atlantic World, 1649-1849
"Given the linguistic barriers that often impede the work of studying multilingual archives, such as the Haitian Revolution, Lesley S. Curtis and Christen Mucher have performed crucial scholarly work by making available to Anglophone scholars of early Americas an edited translation of Haiti’s first novel, Emeric Bergeaud’s Stella… Curtis’s and Mucher’s translation… is a solid effort."-Early American Literature
“Representing the Haitian Revolution has proven as much a challenge for Haitian as for Caribbean writers. An early exemplar of the ideal of the Haitian writer as national visionary, Émeric Bergeaud was a pioneer in this regard, choosing the novel form to recount Haiti’s complex revolutionary past. More than a mere curiosity, Stella uses symbol and allegory to establish a foundational myth for the new republic. Curtis and Mucher’s welcome translation provides a fluent, often poetic rendering of the original work.”-J. Michael Dash,New York University