Some thoughts on Carpentier

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I literally JUST remembered I was supposed to post this last night. Whoops!

The Kingdom of This World is easily in my top 3 books we’ve read so far. I found the tone very conversational, the characters multi-faceted (and investable emotionally) and the plot interesting. Here are a few things I paused to think about and write down as I read:

  • The songs/poems – what part do they play? The original language of the text is Spanish, but some of the verse used in the story is in French/Latin. I wonder if there was any meaning lost in translation from French-Spanish-English or Latin-Spanish-English?
  • I found it really interesting that Carpentier referenced several other writers whose works we have read or discussed. For example, Rousseau (and his arias? p. 52) and Voltaire…
  • The Pauline Bonaparte section. I could say a lot of things about this chunk of the book – I found it the most interesting to read, but also thought it was the most out of place. What is a historical account of Pauline Bonaparte’s life and the death of her husband doing in a book about Haitian slavery? I want to go further than the simple fact that she (and her husband) were in the right place at the right time and her husband was part of the group trying to reestablish French control of Haiti. Also – Pauline married at 16 and had a baby at 17 (who died at the age of 6); where was her son during this whole expedition?
  • Tying into the Pauline Bonaparte subplot, what about the issue of gender? I feel like we definitely talk about this a little bit with every book, and I don’t want to reiterate the same things, but here’s this: “For a long time now [Ti Noël] had dreamed of raping Mlle Floridor.” (p. 68) How can you dream of raping someone? Is that not a little bit contradictory? Also, just no. Jon mentioned in lecture that women are treated more as objects than as people in this book, and although it wasn’t that prominent, it’s definitely there in the shadow of the female characters.

That’s more or less it for now. See you all tomorrow!