Date of Degree


Document Type


Degree Name





Thomas C. Spear

Committee Members

Renée Larrier

Jerry W. Carlson

Subject Categories

French and Francophone Language and Literature


Inspired by the study of Western historiography and the processes by which silence enters into history in Michel-Rolph Trouillot’s seminal work, Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History, this dissertation demonstrates that fiction can be used both for silencing the past and for rewriting it. This study focuses on seven novels, one short story and two plays published between 1798 to 2007: Adonis ou le Bon Nègre by Jean-Baptiste Picquenard, L’Habitation de Saint-Domingue ou L’Insurrection by Charles de Rémusat, Benito Cereno by Herman Melville, Les Nuits chaudes du Cap-Français by Hugues Rebell, Drums at Dusk by Arna Bontemps, Le Royaume de ce monde (El reino de este mundo) by Alejo Carpentier, Monsieur Toussaint by Edouard Glissant, and the trilogy of the historical novel (Le Soulèment des âmes, Le Maâtre des carrefours, La Pierre du bâtisseur by Madison Smartt Bell.

Building upon the works of Paul Ricoeur and Hayden White for whom historical and fictional narratives have more in common than they diverge, this dissertation shows how diverse narrative techniques in fictions representing the Haitian Revolution participate in the silencing of this Revolution, one of the most significant events of the Enlightenment that has left a legacy of centuries of ramifications upon world history.

This study reads fiction in a manner analogous to historical works, rewriting history. It examines a representative corpus of fictional texts through a close analysis of point of view, characters, tropes, metaphors and emplotments. This study explores the way in which writers of fiction use a variety of narrative techniques to represent the Revolution as an unthinkable event. It also shows how fiction can be not only history’s ally, but also an effective medium for revisiting predominant views of the official version of the historical past.


Digital reproduction from the UMI microform.