Aimé Césaire, The Tragedy of King Christophe (1964)
Edition used: Grove
Derek Walcott, Henri Christophe (1949)
Edition used: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
- Powerpoint (pdf slides)
- Consider the ways in which theatre/theatricality/presentation are used in Césaire’s The Tragedy of King Christophe or Walcott’s .
- “If there’s one thing that riles me as much as slaveholders’ talk, it’s to hear our philanthropists proclaim, with the best of intentions of course, that all men are men and that there are neither whites nor blacks. That’s thinking in an armchair, not in the world. All men have the same rights? Agreed. But some men have more duties than others. That’s where the inequality comes in” (Césaire 41). What does the character of Henri Christophe have to say about race in Césaire’s The Tragedy of King Christophe? What does the play itself have to say about race?
- Compare either Henri Christophe or Vastey in The Tragedy of King Christophe with his counterpart in Henri Christophe.
- Discuss the representation of kingship, leadership, and/or governmentality in either Césaire’s or Walcott’s play.
- We have read several accounts of the Haitian Revolution and the decades that followed, each with their own choices of what to relate and what, as Trouillot would put it, is silenced. Choose either Césaire’s or Walcott’s play and discuss which parts of the story are emphasized, and for what possible purposes.
- Césaire’s The Tragedy of King Christophe and Carpentier’s The Kingdom of this World treat several of the same events and scenes. Choose two and show how the differential treatment of them is related to a more general difference in themes or approaches between these texts.
- “Thunder: power to speak, to make, to construct, to build, to be, to name, to bind, to remake” (Césaire 26). References to and images of building, forming, (re)making are prevalent in Césaire’s play. Give an interpretation of a few of them that explains their significance in the context of the play as a whole.
- “The light, strengthen the light, / I will not die in the dark” (Walcott 104). Discuss the significance of images of and references to light and dark, sight and blindness, and/or sun and moon in Walcott’s Henri Christophe.