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Dangerous Creole Liaisons$
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Jacqueline Couti

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9781781383018

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5949/liverpool/9781781383018.001.0001

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Sexualizing and Darkening Black Female Bodies: Whose Imagined Community?

Sexualizing and Darkening Black Female Bodies: Whose Imagined Community?

(p.121) Chapter 3 Sexualizing and Darkening Black Female Bodies: Whose Imagined Community?
Dangerous Creole Liaisons

Jacqueline Couti

Liverpool University Press

Chapter 3 examines the late nineteenth century: a Belle Époque crosscultural pollination generated by two writers, Jenny Manet and Lafcadio Hearn, who visited Martinique. In their works, these travelers adopted the discourse of white Creole writers while contributing some stereotypes of their own. Manet and Hearn modernized the prevailing rhetoric of victimization and power. They reinforced the stereotypical vision of femininity as previously disseminated by white Creoles, and of French Caribbean culture as a fluid and troubling construction. The chapter teases out how their vision of French Antillean women went on to pollinate the imaginary of Martinicans: in the late 1890s for Manet, and from the late 1910s onward for Hearn. Written in English for an American audience, Lafcadio Hearn’s novel Youma (1890) and his travel-like narrative Two Years in the French West Indies (1890) offer ideas of black Antillean femininity that are not merely local, but transatlantic and transnational. Manet, a French writer who moved to Saint-Pierre, Martinique, in 1891, wrote the serialized novel Maïotte in 1896 at the request of the Martinican newspaper Les Colonies. Her work modernizes the portrayal of the traditional créole family in this case menaced by the arrival of a Frenchman and his license.

Keywords:   interracial sex, Manet, Hearn, race, gender, female allegory, travel literature, eroticism, Third Republic, whiteness

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