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At the age of seven, Tituba watched as her mother was hanged for daring to wound a plantation owner who tried to rape her She was raised from then on by Mama Yaya, a gifted woman who shared with her the secrets of healing and magic But it was Tituba s love of the slave John Indian that led her from safety into slavery, and the bitter, vengeful religion practiced by the good citizens of Salem, Massachusetts Though protected by the spirits, Tituba could not escape the lies and accusations of that hysterical time As history and fantasy merge, Maryse Cond , acclaimed author of TREE OF LIFE and SEGU, creates the richly imagined life of a fascinating woman CARAF Books Caribbean and African Literature Translated from FrenchThis book has been supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities, an independent federal agency.


10 thoughts on “ Moi, Tituba, sorcière...

  1. Rowena Rowena says:

    What is a witch I noticed that when he said the word, it was marked with disapproval Why should that be Why Isn t the ability to communicate with the invisible world, to keep constant links with the dead, to care for others and heal, a superior gift of nature that inspires respect, admiration, and gratitude Maryse Cond , I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem With my interest in discovering hidden stories, this book was right up my alley I can hardly think of a worse fate than being an enslaved black woman in the New World in the 17th Century I know about the Salem Witch Trials but I didn t know that there was a black witch who had played a role Tituba, who was born and raised in Barbados but moved to America, ends up playing such a pivotal role in the Salem witch trials, yet I d never heard of her until I came across this book I think it s obvious that what was omitted in history clearly shows what or who has been valued in history It also shows that in many cases black people weren t even considered worthy of a footnote Angela Davis foreword is very powerful, and one part I kept coming back to because it resonated with me, as I believe it would resonate with anyone who wasn t taught their proper history Tituba looked for her story in the history of the Salem witch trials and could not find it I have looked for my history in the story of the colonization of this continent and I have found silences, omissions, distortions, and fleeting, enigmatic insinuations But literature is powerful and gives life and a voice to people long dead and sometimes long forgotten It is indeed a moment of triumph when Cond decided to give Tituba a voice Even if someone didn t get justice then, they can at least get some sense of justice through literature, especially when their story, which may have been ridiculed, is finally understood Tituba s revenge consists in having persuaded one of her descendants to rewrite her own moment in history in her own African oral tradition.


  2. Aubrey Aubrey says:

    4.5 5I m flabbergasted by anyone proclaiming the death of the novel in this day and age, I really am Not only is the word novel built on arbitrary Eurocentric standards that weren t even validated by academia until men wrested the structure away from female writers, where s that infamous lust for weirdly wrought frontiers so proudly held up by the status quo Is it the fanfiction spanning thousands of 250 word average pages that scares one to pieces Or is it the burgeoning non European sense of the word nibbling at the bulwarks of colonial sanctity that s walking over one s grave Whatever it is, it s exemplified by this book here, one written than 20 years ago and still sparking enraged It s not historical fiction It s not apolitical an impossible state btw I can t like it if I can t pigeonhole it in the reviews below Despite the absurdity of the lot, I can t help but look fondly on such flustered hullabaloo, for it s guaranteed to lead me somewhere interesting.If you mixed Mr Fox and Omeros together, you wouldn t get anything like this, but it s a good grounding for the postmodern parody forging of identity reclamation of post colonial culture jargon one s going to be throwing out whenever someone encounters a black female writer who doesn t write in English about serious endeavors with which she insists of having fun Fun s a poor word for it, but joyful humanity is a bit too bogged, so find your own worded intermediary in this tale of Tituba, come back to get her revitalizing revenge on a slighting history that is never about the usual death and destruction and all that patriarchal jazz, but life There s torture and murder and not a bit of shying away from the reek of bodily functions propagated by poor pieces of historical works that encourages such misbegotten yearnings for a time of little bathing and no indoor plumping, but ultimately, there is life.Getting back to the death of the novel , I d believe it if there weren t works like these so concerned with the erasure of history, the eradication of selves due to physical characteristics, and the creation of a rich and wonderful reality through the powers of composition and a devil may care equalizing of truth and humanity Times may have changed, but the world remains one where the very existence of certain combinations of traits in particular persons is cause for consternation and critical evaluation, making for works such as these that question the reader as much as the values of past, present, and future Best of all, this is no looming straightjacket of academic hogwash, but a fascinating piece of sex and magic and areas of the world too often brushed over by official pens and papers In short, those death of the novel ers don t know what they re missing.P.S Bisexuality They didn t say it, but fanfiction senses don t lie.


  3. Teresa Teresa says:

    4.75 the last quarter star left off due to my own failings I came to this novel expecting historical fiction of a sort, a reimagining and expansion of the story of a woman central to the Salem witch trials of the 17th century Though the author makes use of the historical record, this is not mere historical fiction it s so much folklore, feminist text, epic tale, even speculative fiction of a sort.Cond works from one of the assertions that Tituba was from Barbados, taken from there by Reverend Parris, who eventually settles in the village of Salem different from the town of Salem, not sure I realized that before , now Danvers Cond s story starts with Tituba narrating her conception, the rape of her mother, an Ashanti woman, by a white English sailor on a slave ship ironically named Christ the King, part of the slave trade from Africa to the West Indies.Due to my assumption, I didn t know what I was reading at first I noted some continuity errors, or what I thought were such, wondering if they were translation choices But when I got to the middle section with Tituba s meeting Hester in jail, I was astounded and had to reevaluate all that came before Hester does not end up with the same fate as that in her originator s story and she speaks as a white feminist of today but, undoubtedly, she is Nathaniel Hawthorne s Hester Confused as I was at first, this meeting between the two women was my favorite part of the book Traditional as my reading can be, I guess I m a postmodernist at heart The treatment of the Jewish people in Puritanical Massachusetts becomes a theme and around this point of the story, the language of the book changed, becoming much smoother and all knowing I was having issues with the latter again wondering if some of it was a translation choice but, due to what happens after Tituba returns to Barbados, that too ends up making sense.The afterword, written by Ann Armstrong Scarboro, which also includes her interview with Cond , helped me feel better about my confusions Armstrong Scarboro admits that on her first reading she completely missed the parody of the last section I certainly did, and I know I would benefit from a reread as well.For the same stated purpose of this novel, I was reminded of another short novel I recently read, Ana Historic by Daphne Marlatt Both are written by women who wanted to add to and expand the story of a woman whose fuller story was left out of the historical record by the men in charge.In the interview Cond says she wanted the title of the work to be merely I, Tituba but the publisher said it was too laconic I can t help but think the subtitle was added for a sensational effect, as Cond s Tituba is a healer, not a witch in the sense it s defined here , and she s certainly not of Salem.


  4. Paul Fulcher Paul Fulcher says:

    There would never, ever be a careful, sensitive biography recreating my life and its suffering The Guadeloupean author Maryse Cond was the first and probably the last given its one off purpose winner of The New Academy Prize in Literature create after the problems that prevented the Nobel Prize being awarded this year See The citation read Maryse Cond is a grand storyteller Her authorship belongs to world literature In her work, she describes the ravages of colonialism and the postcolonial chaos in a language which is both precise and overwhelming The magic, the dream and the terror is, as also love, constantly present Fiction and reality overlap each other and people live as much in an imagined world with long and complicated traditions, as the ongoing present Respectfully and with humour, she narrates the postcolonial insanity, disruption and abuse, but also human solidarity and warmth The dead live in her stories closely to the living in a multitudinous world where gender, race and class are constantly turned over in new constellations.Her 1986 novel Moi, Tituba, sorcie re noire de Salem was translated into English in 1992 as I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Richard Philcox, her husband and well as her long term translator.It tells the first person story of Tituba, the alleged witch at the centre of the Salem witch trials, but one pushed to the periphery in historical accounts of the incidents In the historical record both her origins but even her fate after the trials are at best vague, her identity usually confined, as she complains in the novel, to a footnote a slave originating from the west indies and probably practising hoodoo.Like I suspect many English language readers, my literary recognition of Tituba stems from the Arthur Miller play The Crucible, one Cond dismisses in an interview included in the book, noting that while she had seen the play in the past, during her research for this novel she didn t bother revisiting it I knew that Miller as a white male writer would not pay attention to a black woman.She is rather less dismissive of the other major fictional account, Ann Perry s Tituba of Salem Village, which she read halfway through writing her novel, although she admits to being a bit surprised and disappointed because Ann Perry turned the story into a book for adolescents a story of hope and dynamism This was not the type of story that I wanted to tell I am not interested in giving role models to young people.Cond s novel gives Tituba back her past and her future, but also her agency It opens, brutally Abena, my mother, was raped by an English sailor on the deck of Christ the King one day in the year 16 while the ship was sailing for Barbados I was born from this act of aggression From this act of hatred and contempt.Cond s account is also very intentionally not a historical novel, but the opposite Other than one brief two page chapter taken verbatim from the transcript of Tituba s historical trial testimony, Cond says she was not interested at all in what her real life could have been.Indeed this is a highly playful novel in prison Tituba encounters the fictional character Hester Prynne from Hawthorne s The Scarlet Letter, and the two have a deliberately rather anachronistic discussion of feminism.Cond s Tituba is also one blessed with special, one could say from a Anglo Saxon perspective, supernatural, powers, but ones she uses for good not evil When someone actually her soon to be lover Cond s Tituba is also a highly sexualised character first mentions as a warning, while they are still in Barbados, that some may see her as a witch, she thinks What is a witch I noticed that when he said the word, it was marked with disapproval Why should that be Why Isn t the ability to communicate with the invisible world, to keep constant links with the dead, to care for others and heal, a superior gift of nature that inspires respect, admiration and gratitude Consequently shouldn t the witch if that s what this person whp has this gift is called be cherished and revered rather than feared And imbuing her with these powers including her return to Barbados where she is urged to use them to lead a slave rebellion Cond s narration takes on a deliberately mock epic tome As she noted to her interviewer in the book Do not take Tituba too seriously, please the element of parody is very important if you wish to fully comprehend Tituba.And just as Miller although one suspects she would not welcome the comparison cleverly used The Crucible to make points about McCarthy America, Cond notes that writing Tituba was an opportunity to express my feelings about present day America I wanted to imply that in terms of narrow mindedness, hypocrisy, and racism, little has changes since the days of the Puritans.A very readable novel but one with surprising depth.


  5. Shawnta Shawnta says:

    Firstly, it haunts me still, that I have only heard of Cond from the recent call for papers for the upcoming 2013 Medgar Evers National Black Writers Conference Immediately, I had to take a look at anything that was hers translated into English What a magickal experience it was to read this fictional rendition of this mythic character for whom I have made many a frame of reference, but had not heard this version of her story Cond s writing is eloquent, sharp, intriguing, and will grip your heart then wring your eyes into a pool of salt I was captured most when Tituba was in her homeland and not in the American soil I don t want to supply any spoilers, but will say that I could not put it down I read it straight through in three days, then gripped the book once it was completed, and was challenged then, to write my own story, and consider who else s stories needed to be written, or reconsidered What art What imagination What accuracy I am still overcome and am tempted to write a paper and respond to the call if for not other reason, than to thank the conference coordinators for erupting in me this seed that has already sprouted a surprising wave of possibility And lastly, I must say, I was impressed by the admitted relationship with the character Hester, which made this read all the delicious the ancestral connection, or so, kinship and communion of ancerstors, the hidden languages, the songs, the poetry in Cond s writing, so many attributes The only thing I could wish for is that I had it erased from my memory, so that I may read it again.


  6. Christine Christine says:

    It is a rite of passage for many, if not all, American students to read Miller s The Crucible That pretty much is the coverage of the Salem Witch Trials, but not McCarthyism Conde s book is the story of Tituba, who many see as the starting point of the Salem crisis Conde s plot starts with Tituba s mother and her enslavement The focus is on Tituba, not on the trials Tituba s mother and father s tale is all too tragic, and all too true Tituba s escape and then her enslavement not only allow her to become a witch but to also travel to Boston and then Salem It isn t just a clash of cultures, the impact of racism, and the attacks on gender it is a book about self and the discovery of female The inclusion of a one of American literature s most famous heroines is a slightly false note, simply because of the term feminism, but a reasonable one considering the source The slight misstep, if one sees it that way, is slight because Tituba s voice is so strong, so demanding, so passionate that it really doesn t matter While Conde is drawing on Miller s play than other historical sources outside of the description of slavery , she many ways transcends it Miller s play is about a man hounded by himself, society but ultimately because he discards a mistress Conde s story is about a woman hounded because of her skin tone A quick note the edition I read includes a good foreword by Angela Y Davis, and an afterword The afterword I found to be weak and somewhat insulting because it feels it must explain the book to the reader Yet, it includes an interview with Conde and a wonderfully display of honesty from the interviewer Crossposted at Booklikes.


  7. Alex Alex says:

    It is risky to damn a clearly feminist text when you re a man Thankfully, that is a risk I m happy to take There are times when we need to accept that quality does not mean ideology, and I feel this is a perfect example thereof.For starters, there is a decided discrepancy between the book s decided purpose giving a voice for a character in history who has been marginalized and the actual result of any speculative historical fiction This can be no a true take on who Tituba was than the menial information we may have from the Crucible and the historical texts which inspired both that and I, Tituba If the real Tituba could come back and read this, she may well be just as offended by the presumptions of this text as she would be of the mere footnote she registers in historical text There s also the fact that Tituba is a witch The text makes quite a bit of ado about the nature of the word she is not a witch in the negative sense that we read the word most often, but she still conjures and brews and has magic at her fingertips This magic is real, in terms of the book She can cure people with concoctions and charms, influence fate with ritual sacrifice, and even allow a man to speak with his dead family The horror of the witch trials was how the fervor grew like a flame, and ended with so many innocent women imprisoned or slain for literally doing nothing By framing Tituba as a literal sorceress of her own sort, it is harder to be sympathetic The reader knows she is a good witch, but even without the religious overtones to Puritan society, how many modern people would not still fear someone who, if magic existed, knew how to harness that energy We can look at the sexist and racist undertones of these decisions, but that becomes little than a mask when the protagonist is no longer falsely accused, especially when Tituba herself invokes venom against her tormentors with the same blindness they use to judge her as a black woman We understand, yet something still rings false.No less difficult is that Tituba, in some way, brings this upon herself She lives free in Barbados, but in pursuing a man, one known for his flightiness and trickery, she finds herself enslaved as the wife of a slave There was fair warning from the magic world She ignores it Tituba, unconstrained by the s of an incredibly conservative white population, is very sexual, but what keeps her ensnared time and time again through the novel is not this freedom of sexual expression, but her inability to keep it separate from love From her first enslavement with Joe Indian to the final liaison leading to her death, it is not men who trap her, but herself who allows herself to wander into the snares Further, it is she who practices her magic in a world that is already suspicious It is she who lets the children know of her powers We see what could be a strong female character continually undone not only by a world that is ideologically oppressive to what she is from the start, but by her own naivete in how she forges her way in that world.By the time Hester Prynne makes her way into the narrative, I was asking myself, who is still reading this This is the point where we leave the already tenuous historic elements behind for pure ideology Hester exists as a device, another unfairly accused woman kept down by the patriarchy But Hester is so quintessentially fiction as a character not to say she could not be real, but that she isn t , and her existence in this text so immaterial to who that character is, she becomes an elephant that everyone but Conde seems to notice in the room She is a fictional take on a fictional character, which blows open the conceit of this being a real interpretation of Tituba than the very brief sketches left over from the witch trials Hester makes the suspension of disbelief we willingly engage in early on, accepting the spiritual world, feel all for naught It becomes artifice for a fully different agenda, and is heavy handed in that delivery In the long run, we re left with a story that becomes too self conscious of a subtext to do either the stated purpose of the text or the reader thereof much good.


  8. Jimmy Jimmy says:

    If you don t know Maryse Cond , read her now She wrote this book in 1986 about Tituba, a black slave from Barbados We know very little about Tituba s actual life from the history books Only what she said leading up to and pertaining to the Salem Witch trials.Other than that, she may have not existed It reminds me of the one mention in history books of the Moroccan slave who survived the Spanish expedition in Florida in The Moor s Account So much is covered over, a hand moves over the eyes, wipes away the stain, or paints on new eyes Lives forgotten, hidden, never lived Maryse Cond brings Tituba back to life, much as Tituba does when she summons the spirits of her Mama Yaya and Abena from the dead for a conversation.Cond s conversation with Tituba allows her to recreate an entire life and time, not only the Salem episode And she has fun with it Turns out Tituba really was a witch, a black witch, but the word witch changes hands a million times To Tituba it s simply a way of being in touch with the elements around her, to listen to the earth and give back a little, as in a conversation Spirits come and go and she talks with them, consults them, has sex with them Tituba struggles in her new environments, sold once, twice, three times And though she is known as the black witch from Salem, that is but one small chapter of her life She struggles to understand the white man, this creature so afraid of nature as if he does not come from it He innately pulls back from the sight of a black cat How long did he take to forget and learn to live in this world But to her the danger is real, it is hidden in the hearts of white men and women and children It is very much of this world and not the spirit world Of course it is The evil that will say anything to put an enemy s family on the line, while appearing civil.Such a strange book It s historical fan fiction, re imagined and unapologetic about its idiosyncrasies At one point she meets Hester probably Prynne given her adulterous charge and becomes her lover At another point she uses anachronistic terms like feminism and nth degree The language is fiery, poetic, and matter of fact, depending At one point she wonders if the history books will erase her, which sounded like Cond speaking than Tituba The voices meld as in any recollection of a conversation, don t worry it s just a communion of spirits.


  9. Tinea Tinea says:

    Feminist reclamation lit At first glance, the Salem Witch Trials from the perspective of Tituba, the Black enslaved woman from Barbados who was the friend and first accused of the bewitched girls Cond used this woman s jarring omission from history a mere mention, and none of the later absolution given the other witches, in most works about the Trials to write an entire life inner and outer of which the witch trials play only a role Tituba is a healer, an erotic lover in contrast to the Puritans , a mother to many, and a revolutionary Bonus points for an appearance of a jailed Hester Prynne straight out of The Scarlet Letter Not a subtle book, but good From that day I drew closer to the plantations on Barbados , so that my true self could be known Tituba must be loved To think that I scared people I who felt inside me nothing but tenderness and compassion Oh yes, I should have liked ot unleash the wind like a dig from his kennel so that the white Great Houses of the masters would be blown away over the horizon, to order a fire to kindle and fan its flames so that the whole island would be purified and devastated But I don t have such powers I only know how to offer consolation.Cond s Segu is one of my favorites Epic.


  10. Jamie Jamie says:

    This was a quick but powerful novelization of Tituba s life and it clearly illustrated the horrific trauma and hypocrisy of slavery, racism, sexism, and also the Puritan religion I was fascinated by Tituba s use of spirits, herbs, and magic as a matter of course in her life, though not so enraptured with the animal sacrifices Of course, Cond , doesn t let modern readers off the hook at all, nor should she, so we are often confronted with the bitter fact that the horrors and injustices of Tituba s time still fully exist today, even if different forms I hope that the generations to come will live under a welfare state that will truly provide for the well being of its citizens In 1692, at the time of our story, this was not the case Be it in prison or almshouse, the state did not provide for you and, guilty or not guilty, you had to pay for your upkeep and the cost of your chains Far too little has changed