Journal of Romance Studies

Infanticide and/as unspeakability in Évelyne Trouillot’s Rosalie l’ infâme

Journal of Romance Studies (2018), 18, (3), 397–419.

Abstract

Fictionalizing the history of infanticide in mid-eighteenth-century Haiti, Évelyn Trouillot’s Rosalie l’ infâme (2003) [The Infamous Rosalie (2013)] centres on Lisette, a pregnant Creole slave, and her maternal kin. Attempting to voice the unspeakable, painful history of infanticide in Haiti, the novel, though understudied, makes a significant literary contribution in contemporary historical fiction. The purpose of this article is to bring critical awareness to this innovative, intersectional feminist novel. Closely analysing the role of infanticide in the novel, I argue that the slave mother who commits infanticide highlights the slave system’s inability to both affirm and deny slaves the appellation ‘mother’. Highlighting this contradiction, Trouillot portrays infanticide as a courageous maternal disruption and intervention of slavery that simultaneously exposes the fallacious logic of the slaver and the limits to his power.

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Zimmerman, Tegan