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Paul Marchand, F.M.C.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0691059942, Paperback)Charles Chestnutt's 1921 novel begins with a startling premise: expatriate Paul Marchand, a "Free Man of Color," returns to New Orleans only to discover that he is now officially white. Thanks to a will, he has become the head of a rich, powerful--and racist-- Creole family. To claim his birthright, however, he must renounce his mixed-race wife and children, as well as all the principles of his upbringing. Novelist Chestnutt was the most popular and critically acclaimed African-American writer of his day. By the time he wrote Paul Marchand, F.M.C., however, he had fallen from favor, and publishers universally rejected the novel. Its publication marks a recent resurgence of interest in his writing, and it's clear to see why; if Chestnutt's purple prose and melodramatic plot twists sometimes seem dated, his ideas do not. With its dramatic schism between nature and nurture, Marchand's dilemma poses some peculiarly modern questions about the meaning of race. Like many current theorists, Chestnutt saw race as a social construct rather than as an irreversible biological fact, perhaps because of his own background. He was himself light-skinned enough to pass for white, and knowing that he decided not to do so gives this fascinating novel added resonance.
(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 14:05:37 -0400)
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