Stella, first published in 1859, is an imaginative retelling of Haiti’s fight for independence from slavery and French colonialism. Set during the years of the Haitian Revolution (1791-1804), Stella tells the story of two brothers, Romulus and Remus, who help transform their homeland from the French colony of Saint-Domingue to the independent republic of Haiti. Inspired by the sacrifice of their African mother Marie and Stella, the spirit of Liberty, Romulus and Remus must learn to work together to found a new country based on the principles of freedom and equality. This new translation and critical edition of Émeric Bergeaud’s allegorical novel makes Stella available to English-speaking audiences for the first time.
Considered the first novel written by a Haitian, Stella tells of the devastation and deprivation that colonialism and slavery wrought upon Bergeaud’s homeland. Unique among nineteenth-century accounts, Stella gives a pro-Haitian version of the Haitian Revolution, a bloody but just struggle that emancipated a people, and it charges future generations with remembering the sacrifices and glory of their victory. Bergeaud's novel demonstrates that the Haitians—not the French—are the true inheritors of the French Revolution, and that Haiti is the realization of its republican ideals. At a time in which Haitian Studies is becoming increasingly important within the English-speaking world, this edition calls attention to the rich though under-examined world of nineteenth-century Haiti.
"Stella champions the republican French ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity that propelled the Haitian slave uprising before Napoleon tried to reclaim the colony for himself…. Written had a century after Haiti declared independence in 1804, Stella cites from a variety of historical sources and describes numerous real-life battles and generals, among them the brutal Vicomte de Rochambeau, who success General Leclerc in 1802 as commander of Napoleon’s campaign to reclaim Saint-Domingue…. Stella, expertly translated by Lesley S. Curtis and Christen Mucher, is one of the stranger novels to have come out of the francophone Antilles.”—Ian Thomas, Times Literary Supplement, 22nd January 2016