Key Text: Le Macandal by Marie Augustin (Tante Marie)
By Laura Johnson
Le Macandal : épisode de l'insurrection des noirs à St. Domingue by Marie Augustin (Tante Marie)
Marie Augustin’s novel, Le Macandal: épisode de l'insurrection des noirs à St. Domingue, was first published in 1892 under the name Tante Marie, or Aunt Mary, by Imprimerie Geo. Müller in New Orleans. Originally written in 1870, this novel is a fictional retelling of Makandal’s story including his supposed wife Wamba and their young son, Dominique. In Le Macandal, Augustin narrates Makandal’s marronage as a runaway slave, his underground network of poisoners on the island, and his eventual capture and execution. However, Augstin adds a familial aspect to this narrative, centering Makandal’s son, Dominique, in the later insurrection by slaves and refugees against the planter regime on the island. Positioned as a juxtaposing leader to Toussaint Louverture, Dominique dies in battle but stands as an emblematic figure of legacy, underscoring the place of Makandal in both myth and historical narrative.
While concrete details about Augustin’s sources for Le Macanadal are not easily identifiable, she conducted research at the Howard Library at the now Tulane University in New Orleans, according to Edward Tinker. Marie Augustin was an educator in New Orleans where her grand-father was a Professor at the University of New Orleans, whose research on the Haitian revolution was incorporated into Le Macandal (Tinker 1932). However, by 1870, Makandal’s story had been heavily reprinted and translated throughout newspapers across the transatlantic world, including in the United States, France, and England. As a writer, Augustin produced more recognizable texts during her lifetime, including two plays published in the Comptes-Rendus de l'Athenée Louisianais: Les Va-cances de Camille (1895-1896) and Le Dernier Bonnet d'Ane (1898) (Tinker). Her name and works can be found in several collections of biographies, French literature, and notable writers of Louisiana.
Le Macandal has received less scholarly attention than other texts featuring François Makandal, including “Makandal, Histoire vėritable,” However, Kate Simpkins argues that Le Macandal focuses on the question of generational exchange, especially as “a new means of to trace the story from Haiti to diasporic publishing activity of New Orleans refugee society” (Simpkins 2016, 173). However, this text is mentioned as an important work of historical fiction or primary source by several authors throughout the decades, including The French Literature of Louisiana by Ruby Van Allen Caulfeild (1998). A recent edition (2010) was edited in French by Lindsey Monds with the Editions Tintamarre project through the Centenary College of Louisiana.
Augustin, Marie-Joséphine. Le Macandal : épisode de l'insurrection des noirs à St. Domingue. Nouvelle-Orléans: Imprimerie Geo. Müller, 1892. HathiTrust, http://hdl.handle.net/2027/osu.32435082209263.
Augustin, Marie-Joséphine. Le Macandale, edited by Lindsay Monds, Editions Tintamarre / Centenar, 2010. http://french.centenary.edu/editions/macandal_en.htm.
Caulfeild, Ruby Van Allen. The French Literature of Louisiana. Gretna: Pelican Publishing, 1998.
Jenson, Deborah. “Mimetic Mastery and Colonial Mimicry In the First Franco-Antillean Creole Anthology.” The Yale Journal of Criticism 17, no. 1 (2004): 83–106.
Simpkins, Patricia Catherine “Kate.” The Absent Agronomist and the Lord of Poison: Cultivating Modernity in Transatlantic Literature, 1758-1854. Northeastern University, 2016.
Tinker, Edward Larocque. Les écrits De Langue Française En Louisiane Au XIXe Siècle: Essais Biographiques et Bibliographiques (1932). Geneve: Slatkine Reprints, 1975. Tinker, Edward Larocque. Les écrits De Langue Française En Louisiane Au XIXe Siècle. Paris: H. Champion, 1932.