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Louisiana Creole Literature

A Historical Study

Catharine Savage Brosman

Publication Year: 2013

Louisiana Creole Literature is a broad-ranging critical reading of belles lettres--in both French and English--connected to and generally produced by the distinctive Louisiana Creole peoples, chiefly in the southeastern part of the state. The book covers primarily the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the flourishing period during which the term Creole had broad and contested cultural reference in Louisiana.

The study consists in part of literary history and biography. When available and appropriate, each discussion--arranged chronologically--provides pertinent personal information on authors, as well as publishing facts. Readers will find also summaries and evaluation of key texts, some virtually unknown, others of difficult access. Brosman illuminates the biographies and works of Kate Chopin, Lafcadio Hearn, George Washington Cable, Grace King, and Adolphe Duhart, among others. In addition, she challenges views that appear to be skewed regarding canon formation. The book places emphasis on poetry and fiction, reaching from early nineteenth-century writing through the twentieth century to selected works by poets still writing in the early twenty-first century. A few plays are treated also, especially by Victor Séjour. Louisiana Creole Literature examines at length the writings of important Francophone figures, and certain Anglophone novelists likewise receive extended treatment. Since much of nineteenth-century Louisiana literature was transnational, the book considers Creole-based works which appeared in Paris as well as those published locally.

Published by: University Press of Mississippi

Title Page, Other Works by the Author, Copyright

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pp. 2-5


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-xii

This study is based on reading and research carried out principally in the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library of Tulane University and the Louisiana Research Collection. I consulted materials also at the Amistad Center of Tulane University, the Middleton Library of Louisiana State University, and the Fondren...

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Chapter One. Louisiana and Its Population: The Historical Background

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pp. 3-16

In what became a maxim of deterministic criticism, Hippolyte Taine, among the most influential French intellectual figures of the middle and late nineteenth century, asserted that human artefacts and creations such as literature and art were products of “la race, le milieu, le moment”—race, milieu or surroundings...

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Chapter Two. Features of Early Louisiana Literature and the Cultural Milieu

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pp. 17-27

The concerns of this chapter are the standing of literature by Louisiana Creoles (in all applications of the term) and its early features; the nineteenth-century cultural milieu; and features of the environment that contributed to the distinctiveness of Louisiana literature....

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Chapter Three. Père Rouquette and Other Early Francophone Poets

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pp. 28-44

French language is one marker of the writers grouped in this chapter (though some wrote in English also). They were born in the eighteenth or early nineteenth century, were white and, to the degree their political and social views can be determined, generally conservative. Their conservatism is pertinent...

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Chapter Four. Mercier and Other Novelists Born in the Early Nineteenth Century

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pp. 45-56

Revolutions in America (1776) and France (1789, 1830, 1848) and new bodies of law, including the Napoleonic Code and American law after 1803, marked Louisiana, as it were, for nineteenth-century liberalism. Yet America remained the land of slavery also. While the grounds for liberalism vary, what...

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Chapter Five. Mid-Nineteenth-Century Immigrant Francophone Authors

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pp. 57-67

The careers sketched here show how French-born immigrants to Louisiana were often more radical than locals of liberal persuasion. The violent revolutionary tradition—begun in 1789, with its proclamation of the universal Rights of Man, and reaffirmed in 1848—and the early veins of French socialism...

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Chapter Six. Fiction and Drama by Mid-Nineteenth-Century Free People of Color

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pp. 68-79

A substantial and significant body of French postcolonial literature in nineteenth- century Louisiana was produced by the Free People of Color, parallel to that produced by white authors but created out of very different personal concerns and within contrasting social circumstances. Thus, although they...

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Chapter Seven. Poetry by Mid-Nineteenth-Century Free People of Color

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pp. 80-92

Poetry in nineteenth-century Louisiana by both gens de couleur libres and whites displayed “a quality inspired and polished by their sense of community.” Using European forms to which they added local cultural elements—geographic, lexical, historical—Louisiana poets produced accomplished verse...

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Chapter Eight. Cable and Hearn

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pp. 93-103

The appearance of George Washington Cable (1844–1925) on the literary scene in Louisiana signaled a new vigor in Anglophone literature. Whereas French had been the principal literary language in previous decades, it would be quickly displaced. Cable, the most eminent Louisiana author of the...

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Chapter Nine. Late Francophone Figures: de la Houssaye, du Quesnay, Dessommes

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pp. 104-120

Although Sidonie de la Houssaye (1820–94) belongs by birth date to an earlier period, she came late to publication and thus is treated here. Née Hélène Perret, sometimes called Louise, self-styled Sidonie, she wrote under her married name and also the names Louis and Louise Raymond. She is sometimes...

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Chapter Ten. Kate Chopin

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pp. 121-130

Among writers who dealt with Louisiana Creoles, Kate Chopin (1850–1904) is certainly the one whose pages are read now most widely. This currency is due to the remaking of her reputation by feminist scholars; criticism on Chopin has become an industry. In one writer’s view, feminists “recognized...

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Chapter Eleven. King, Stuart, and Others

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pp. 131-148

Born in New Orleans, Grace Elizabeth King (1852–1932), a fiction writer and popular historian, was not of French or Spanish Creole stock. Her father was born in Georgia and educated at the University of Virginia; her mother was likewise of Georgian stock. Though she was not Catholic, Grace attended...

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Chapter Twelve. Some Twentieth-Century Louisiana Prose Writers

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pp. 149-167

Although many fiction writers of the twentieth and twenty-first centuries, whether Louisianans or visitors, have dealt with New Orleans, relatively few have emphasized the Creole background, traditions, or their remnants; fewer still call themselves Creole or are of mainly Creole extraction. The Creoles of...

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Chapter Thirteen. Louisiana Creole Poets of the Twentieth and Twenty-First Centuries

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pp. 168-187

Dealing critically with present-day literary products is different from investigating and assessing work of earlier periods, since, obviously, the past, that is, the original context and intervening developments, can be known and understood (as well as misunderstood) in ways that the present cannot...


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pp. 189-230

Selected Bibliography

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pp. 231-239


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pp. 241-265

E-ISBN-13: 9781617039102
E-ISBN-10: 1621039935
Print-ISBN-13: 9781621039938

Page Count: 256
Publication Year: 2013