Cooking Creoleness: Lafcadio Hearn in New Orleans and Martinique

Valérie Loichot


Martinican creolist Raphaël Confiant claims in an unabashed praise of Lafcadio Hearn that the nineteenth century writer “invented what today we might call ‘multiple identity’ or ‘creoleness’ [créolité].” Critic Chris Bongie notes that the word “creolization” appeared for the first time in the English language in Hearn’s 1890 novel Youma. In a letter written to his friend Henry Krehbel in 1883, Hearn himself announces this allegiance to all things creole as he signs “your creolized friend.” These comments identify the nineteenth century thinker not only as a precursor of creoleness, but more importantly, and also surprisingly, as a forerunner of both creoleness and creolization, two related terms that are philosophically unlike in Martinican thought.

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