Notes on Voodoo in New Orleans by Robert Tallant

Collier Books, NY, 1962. 252 pages. (Book originally published in 1946)

Comments by Bob Corbett
Oct. 1996

Tallant writes a sensationalistic book on Voodoo in New Orleans. He claims that while Voodoo existed in New Orleans before 1800, that it really took off and became an important part of the culture after the Saint-Domingue revolution and the escaped planters came to New Orleans with their slaves.

However, it becomes clear that the Voodoo of New Orleans bears little relationship to the religion that dominates Haiti today and then. Rather, New Orleans Voodoo is most concerned with three things on Tallant's account:

These things all exist in Haiti, but there it is a part of the larger religious aspects of Voodoo, and much less profit oriented.

But, to what extent is Tallant's account to be trusted? He went looking for the sensationalistic, what one could find from the outside, and he found the most visible side of New Orleans Voodoo. Perhaps he found it's essence, perhaps he did not.

Tallant interviewed many persons, or at least studied interviews carried on by members of the Writers' Project during the depression. He also combed newspapers to find reports on New Orleans Voodoo.

The book is repetitious, anecdotal and with relatively little analysis or scholarship. Tallant mainly just reports stories he heard in New Orleans.


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