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Volume 17, Issue 3-4
  • ISSN: 1368-2679
  • E-ISSN: 1758-9142



This critical reading of Lafcadio Hearn’s novels Chita (1889) and Youma (1890b) argues that Hearn’s conception of the creole, while it inspired the rather optimistic late twentieth-century proponents of the term, was nonetheless haunted by suffering and death. In Chita (1889), which casts the creole as representing a harmonious world of multiplicity (be it ethnic, linguistic, racial, etc.), a cataclysmic storm wipes that world away in the form of a fragile Gulf Coast community. In Youma (1890b), a young woman torn between two worlds tragically ends her own life. Both texts show that for Hearn the Creole is precisely what is disappearing, moribund. The conclusion connects Hearn to the créolistes (who claimed him as an influence) and to that prophet of creolization, Edouard Glissant (who rejects Hearn). It argues that while the créolistes’ conceptions of the Creole are more optimistic, concerned more with the future and less so with death, the term ‘creole’ remains fraught and undecided in their work as in Hearn’s. In doing so, this article challenges the créolistes and Glissant, suggesting that ‘creoleness’ and ‘creolization’ risk becoming unmoored from the Creole, and that Hearn’s agony-ridden legacy lingers on today.

Cette lecture critique des romans Chita: A Memory of Last Island (1889) et Youma: The Story of a West-Indian Slave (1890b) propose que la conception du créole chez Lafcadio Hearn, bien qu’elle soit une inspiration pour les théoriciens du créole plutôt optimistes de la fin du vingtième siècle, était néanmoins hantée par la souffrance et la mort. La conclusion de cette étude relie le travail de Hearn à ceux des créolistes (qui le voyaient comme une source d’inspiration) et du prophète de la créolisation, Edouard Glissant (qui a pourtant rejeté Hearn). Ce faisant, elle montre que malgré le fait que la conception du créole chez les créolistes soit plutôt utopique, le terme « créole » reste tendu et indécis chez eux comme chez Hearn. En conséquence, cet essai entreprend une critique, postulant que la ‘créolité’ et la ‘créolisation’ risquent de perdre leurs amarres avec le ‘créole’, et que le legs de Hearn, marqué par l’agonie, persiste aujourd’hui.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): Chita; creole; creoleness; creolization; créolisation; créolité; Lafcadio Hearn; Youma
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