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The Kingdom of This World (1949)

by Alejo Carpentier

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1,0721916,325 (3.76)128
A few years after its liberation from French colonialist rule, Haiti experienced a period of unsurpassed brutality, horror, and superstition under the reign of the black King Henri-Christophe. Through the eyes of the ancient slave Ti-Noel, The Kingdom of This World records the destruction of the black regime--built on the same corruption and contempt for human life that brought down the French--in an orgy of voodoo, race hatred, erotomania, and fantastic grandeurs of false elegance.… (more)
  1. 00
    The Pyramid by Ismail Kadare (wandering_star)
    wandering_star: The scene with the building of the Citadelle in Carpentier's work reminded me very much of the building of the Pyramid.
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» See also 128 mentions

English (13)  Spanish (4)  Dutch (1)  All languages (18)
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
An almost mellow, distanced telling of the life and times of Ti Noël in the late 18th early 19th century Haiti, during slavery, revolts, exile and always oppression. A few others individuals are briefly in focus, but while sad the book is remarkably unbitter on the failures of revolution. ( )
  quondame | May 23, 2022 |
This was an important book. The structure of it was beautiful, gracefully capturing dozens of years in a relatively short novel. The content was far from graceful: it was raw without gore; it resonated as true without being clogged with facts. It was deeply uncomfortable, at times, but that felt good and necessary, and I was willing to go almost anywhere with Carpentier. The prose was deft and concise. Though the cover heralds it as magical realism, that element plays a minor role in the plot. Carpentier's sparse and factual tone, however, lends strength and continuity to this technique. Hope to reread at some point, though; the pacing and perhaps the circumstances of reading this book led me to take it faster than I would have liked. ( )
  et.carole | Jan 21, 2022 |
This is a modern classic by Cuban writer Alejo Carpentier about the revolution in Haiti. First published in 1949, this is not a book that would be written today; it's overwhelmingly male-oriented, with women existing mainly as objects of lust, prostitutes or to rape. And there's some interesting phrasing around issues of race. But setting that aside, this is an interesting look a the first successful slave rebellion in the western world.

The novel is told primarily through the eyes of an enslaved Black man named Ti Noel, who witnesses the first attempts to break free, lives through the successful revolt, accompanies the man who enslaved him to Cuba and finally returns to Haiti, where he lives through the oppressive reign of Henri Christophe and long after, always just trying to live free in that corner of Haiti he considers home. This is a slender novel that packs a lot in, provides a lot of information while being full of action, magic realism and life. ( )
1 vote RidgewayGirl | Feb 16, 2021 |
Historical fiction meets magical realism in this short novel about the 1803 Slave uprising in Haiti and the rulers that followed. Sad story but since it's told from the point of view of a slave of that time period it's sprinkled with magical voodoo and naive hope. The writing style reminded me of reading Greek and Roman mythology. ( )
  technodiabla | Jan 12, 2017 |
Alejo Carpentier was a political radical who had to spend quite a bit of his life in exile outside Cuba, but his project in writing about Haiti was more aesthetic than directly political. He was keen to contribute to the development of a specifically Latin American literature, reflecting his view that the American view of the world differed from traditional European views because of the role of collective belief (both indigenous and arising from African-derived ideas like Santeria and Voudou), which could create a kind of objective reality for fantastic events (lo real maravilloso). For him the key thing about the Haitian revolution thus seems to be the interaction between political and mythical elements in shaping the awareness of the people. He was clearly also influenced very heavily by his recollections of some of the sites he visited on his famous trip to Haiti in 1943, especially Henri-Christophe's palace and fort. Instead of a linear account of the events, we get a fragmented, impressionistic view, where we see a few key incidents from the points of view of relatively unimportant characters, giving Carpentier the possibility to abstract and generalise in a way that wouldn't be possible in a classic non-fiction account or a traditional historical novel. The result is very interesting and colourful, and it seems to achieve what Carpentier intended, but of course it lacks one of the important things you normally look for in a historical novel, the opportunity to identify with the characters. ( )
  thorold | Dec 29, 2015 |
Showing 1-5 of 13 (next | show all)
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» Add other authors (12 possible)

Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Alejo Carpentierprimary authorall editionscalculated
Danticat, EdwidgeIntroductionsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
de Onis, HarrietTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
栄一, 木村Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
渡, 平田Translatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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Of the twenty stallions brought to Cap Francais by the ship's captain, who had a kind of partnership with the breeder in Normandy, Ti Noel and unhesitatingly picked that stud with the four white feet and rounded crupper which promised good service for mares whose colts were coming smaller each year.
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A few years after its liberation from French colonialist rule, Haiti experienced a period of unsurpassed brutality, horror, and superstition under the reign of the black King Henri-Christophe. Through the eyes of the ancient slave Ti-Noel, The Kingdom of This World records the destruction of the black regime--built on the same corruption and contempt for human life that brought down the French--in an orgy of voodoo, race hatred, erotomania, and fantastic grandeurs of false elegance.

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