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The Saint-Domingue Plantation; or, The Insurrection

A Drama in Five Acts

Charles de Rémusat

Publication Year: 2008

Based on events that began in Saint-Domingue on August 21, 1791, The Saint-Domingue Plantation; or, The Insurrection vividly dramatizes the genesis and outbreak of a slave revolt. When a representative of the French Assemblée nationale, Monsieur de Tendale, arrives at the Valombre family plantation to examine the condition of slaves in Saint-Domingue and to preach their liberation, he sparks a debate among the local curé and the Valombres—Monsieur, Madame, son Léon, and daughter Célestine—who disagree about how slaves should be treated and whether they should be freed. Meanwhile, rebellion brews on the plantation. As the slave revolt unfolds, the play's white hero, Léon, realizes the discrepancy between his liberal political and philosophical ideas and the reality of his family's economic interests. The black hero, Timur, confronts the slaves' bloodthirsty desire to kill the masters, their resistance to his leadership, and the realization that freedom places heavy demands on him and the other insurgents.

Translated into English by Norman R. Shapiro for the first time since its publication in 1825, The Saint-Domingue Plantation addresses a wide range of topics that antislavery activists raised during Charles de Rémusat's time, including antitorture measures, slaves' access to the sacrament of marriage, and religious education. An informative introduction by Doris Y. Kadish places the play in its historic and literary contexts, inviting further discussion and interpretation of this important work.

Published by: Louisiana State University Press

Title Page, Copyright

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Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Translator's Note

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pp. vii-x

Theater, like poetry, presents the translator with more of an artistic challenge than fiction. Although I believe firmly that all literature, ideally, is meant to be heard, even if only in the head, fiction writers (and hence their translators) are, by the very nature of the genre, generally less concerned ...

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Introduction

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pp. xi-xxxiv

Time has nearly obliterated the memory of one of the most notable literary and political figures of the first half of the nineteenth century, Charles François Marie, comte de Rémusat (1797–1875). That is not to say that his name does not appear in the historical record under a number of different guises: ...

Cast of Characters

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pp. xxxv-xxxvi

The Saint-Domingue Plantation; or, The Insurrection

Map of Saint-Domingue

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pp. xxxviii-

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Act I

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pp. 1-34

A raised, awning-covered veranda looking out over a sunny sugarcane field. The left and right sides are protected from the sun by high trellises entwined with greenery and flowers. Upstage, a balcony, and above it a practical blind the width of the veranda. Down left, an open entrance. ...

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Act II

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pp. 35-66

A space in front of the plantation house, unseen beyond the footlights. In the background, distant mountains, and up left, a low hill. Stage right, the entrance to the shed where the cane is pressed. Down right, a path leading offstage. Stage left, several low slave huts, set at an angle. ...

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Act III

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pp. 67-114

César Julien. Come, come, my friend. The questions the Colonial Constitution1 is bringing up at the moment are certainly not unreasonable. And questions that the motherland has to address, in its fatherly wisdom!... (He smiles at his bon mot.) Present conditions are in need of reform. Surely you’ll not deny— ...

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Act IV

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pp. 115-138

The ground-floor salon. Up center, a fireplace. Up right, the door to Madame de Valombre’s room. Down left, a door leading to the other rooms. Center, a loveseat. Up right and down left, an armchair. Down right, a table and chair, facing forward, with writing implements. ...

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Act V

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pp. 139-169

A wide expanse by the sea, with a small hill upstage overlooking the water, a clump of trees at its feet and other trees here and there. In the distance can be seen the smoking ruins of the plantation, and others, likewise smoldering, dotting the landscape as far as the horizon. ...


E-ISBN-13: 9780807149348
Print-ISBN-13: 9780807133576

Page Count: 208
Publication Year: 2008