Charles Testut's Le Vieux Salomon: Race, Religion, Socialism, and Freemasonry

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Through the study of Charles Testut's Le Vieux Salomon, a nineteenth-century southern Francophone antislavery novel, this book encourages a reassessment of the southern experience and of the canon of southern literature. Abel argues that Testut's distinctiveness lies in his French intellectual heritage and in his awareness of the rich historical and cultural links between the ethnic legacies of Louisiana and the French Caribbean. Le Vieux Salomon is marked by a sense of place through the author's identification with two regions colonized by the French and which are symbolically represented in the bodies of his black protagonists. In this mulatto couple converge the history and memory of French colonization in the Antilles and Louisiana. Exploring Testut's influences, from Masonic symbolism and principles through nineteenth-century French socialist thought, the book shows how Testut endeavors, through his construction of raced and gendered identity in his protagonists, to eradicate the association of blackness with inferiority. It finishes with a comparative study between Le Vieux Salomon and Harriett Beecher Stowe's Uncle Tom's Cabin to demonstrate how Testut's perspective as a French southern local writer sets him apart from Stowe's Northern view, further emphasizing Testut's contribution to the formulation of a southern cultural and literary identity.

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Lexington Books
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