Marcelin on Seabrook and Voodoo

Philippe Marcelin's comments from into to THE BEAST OF THE HAITIAN HILLS P. XV. "I must acknowledge my debt to a United States writer, who, although he died many years ago, is still anathema to my countrymen. For it all began in 1932 with THE MAGIC ISLAND which I had just read in the French translation and in which William Seabrook, while painting a sensational and fanciful picture of the ruling class of Haiti based on gossip and snap judgments, nevertheless presented the peasantry of the country and its religious beliefs in a human and sympathetic light.

"Until then, like all the people of the bourgeois mileau to which I belonged, I consider the Vodoun cult a body of superstitious practices, grotesque as well as dangerous, probably including human sacrifice and even ritual cannibalism...But it was Seabrook's work which changed my attitude by revealing to me that the Vodoun cult constituted a rich mine of material in which humor and fantasy blended with pathos and poetry, and by showing me the excellent use I could make of it in the literary field."


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