Stella: The Epic Saga of the Haitian Revolution

Layout 1Emeric Bergeaud’s Stella (1859), the first Haitian novel ever published, combines descriptions of moving scenes with factual accounts of the thirteen years of the Haitian revolution (1791-1804). Stella is an epic saga: the novel’s chapter headings refer to major events in Haiti’s history, and the major historical figures — Toussaint, Pétion, Christophe, Sonthonax, and Leclerc, among many others — are present. Stella is therefore also an important document of Caribbean history.
Written while the author was exiled to St. Thomas, due to his alleged participation in an attempt to assassinate the black emperor Faustin I (Soulouque), the work can be read as the first foundational novel of Haiti. It is a mythical retelling of the establishment of the Haitian nation. This narrative presents not only the birth, through revolution, of Haiti as an independent nation but also the strife between political factions in Bergeaud’s contemporary Haiti, including that between blacks and mulattoes in the struggle to control Haiti. Stella vividly introduces readers to the tale of revolt and revolution that eventually led to the creation of a free black nation.

Emeric Bergeaud (1818–1858) was a Haitian novelist. His best-known work, Stella, was the first Haitian novel. Born in Cayes, he served as Secretary to Jerome Maximilien Borgella and later participated in a revolt against President Soulouque. Exiled to Saint Thomas, it was there that he wrote the novel Stella.

Adriana Umaña Hossman (translator), Rice University, teaches French; her research interests include twentieth- and twenty-first-century French and Francophone literature, particularly that of Haiti and the French Antilles.

Luis Duno-Gottberg (introduction), Associate Professor of Film and Caribbean Studies, Rice University, is the author of a book on Albert Camus and two books and numerous articles on slavery and race relations in the Caribbean.