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6 - The dream of creating one people from two lands mixed together: 1937 and borderland Utopia

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  28 July 2017

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Summary

Marcio Veloz Maggiolo, El hombre del acordeón (2003), Jacques Stephen Alexis, ‘Of the Marvellous Realism of the Haitians’ (1956) and Compère Général Soleil (1955), René Philoctète, Le peuple des terres mêlées (1989), Edwidge Danticat, The Farming of Bones (1998)

The fluid world of Rueda's raya where, as we have seen, according to one of the eyewitnesses of the massacre, the people from the two sides of the border felt a deep sense of unity, is vividly reconstructed in El hombre del acordeón (‘The accordion man,’ 2003), one of the novels under scrutiny here. This chapter presents four fictional recreations of the events written between 1955 and 2003 by writers who had not directly experienced the 1937 events: three of the authors featured here were born in Haiti, one in the Dominican Republic; two have resided mostly on the island while two have spent a remarkable part of their lives abroad. Yet, despite their differences of origin, context, and approach, they can all be seen as committed utopian thinkers animated by an urge to investigate the complex and troubled past of the borderland in order to identify in it a promise for a better future. Crucially, they all seem to imply, more or less forcefully, that this promise can be kept.

The first of the works analysed here is the most recent: El hombre del acordeón, by the Dominican poet, novelist, archaeologist, anthropologist, and critic Marcio Veloz Maggiolo, who weaves a vivid and diversified tapestry with the complex human, political, and cultural fabric of the northern borderland. Born in Santo Domingo in 1963, Veloz Maggiolo is a prolific author who has received multiple awards (Premio Nacional de Poesía in 1961; Premio Nacional de Novela in 1962, 1981, and 1992, and Premio Nacional de Cuento in 1981) for his literary works, many of which have been translated in various languages. Veloz Maggiolo has long been committed to dismantling the ideological apparatus of Trujllo and his followers, and El hombre del acordeón, set in the years just before and after the 1937 massacre, presents and investigates the often contradictory dynamics of a society deeply traumatized by a murderous dictatorial regime which violently ripped apart a well-established way of life.

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Publisher: Liverpool University Press
Print publication year: 2015

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