“Cette nature fragile”: Conflict and the Fantastic in Maryse Condé’s Novels Cover Image
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“Cette nature fragile:” Conflict and the Fantastic in the Novels of Maryse Condé
“Cette nature fragile”: Conflict and the Fantastic in Maryse Condé’s Novels

Author(s): Jessica Tindira
Subject(s): Studies of Literature
Published by: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Śląskiego
Keywords: fantastic literature; historical fiction; witchcraft;
Summary/Abstract: Unlike in magical realism, in fantastic literature, as Tzvetan Todorov explains, the reader and the character hesitate: rational and magical explanations for the phenomenon remain in conflict. In Maryse Condé’s Moi, Tituba, sorciere… Noire de Salem, Tituba’s persistent state of conflict with European, Christian characters stems from such possibilities. For example, the first-person narration prevents the reader from arriving at a tenable conclusion about whether Tituba has true supernatural abilities or simply believes herself to have them, eliciting questions from the reader regarding Tituba’s agency. To further destabilize the reader, the novel manipulates the plot and characters of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s well-known novel The Scarlet Letter and blends historical fact and fiction. These unsettling stylistic elements complement the hesitation evoked by the fantastic nature of the narrative itself. On a narrative level, if Tituba does perform magic, having been raised to believe she has a natural gift, she cannot attribute her power to the devil as the Puritans conceive him with any certainty, even if constant accusations that Tituba is evil punctuate the novel. The conflicting explanations for Tituba’s power invite the reader to question her innocence of charges of witchcraft and thus, the novel’s foundation. Ultimately, this paper concludes that by attributing the conflict between Tituba and her community to the hesitation inherent in a fantastic narrative, the novel recognizes that the unknown, whether spiritual or cultural, isolates Tituba more thoroughly than her supernatural abilities.

  • Page Range: 334-346
  • Page Count: 13
  • Publication Year: 2018
  • Language: English