Island Beneath the Sea

多読127冊め。Island Beneath the Sea. この本はポストカード交換サイトのPostcrossingを通じてハガキをくれたアメリカ人に勧められた作者さんの本。作者のIsabel Allendeさんは南米出身で、女性社会進出やフェミニズムなどに関しての活動をされている方。今年TEDで講演もされていました。


 Island Beneath the Seaは1700年終わりから1800年にかけて、フランス領だったハイチで奴隷として生まれたTeteという少女の物語。当時のハイチは、少数のフランス人がアフリカから連れてきた奴隷を酷使してSugar plantationを経営しており、奴隷たちの生活は惨めなものでした。厳しい労働条件や罰などにより数年で亡くなってしまう奴隷が多く、次々と新しい奴隷が補充されるという状態。白人からすると、自分たちの言葉を話さず、アフリカで原始的な生活をしていた黒人は、見た目の違いもあり、人間とは思われていませんでした。


 この話は歴史に基づいたフィクションで、1800年前後のフランスや独立運動をしていた頃のハイチの様子が描かれています。主人公たちはフィクションですが、ハイチの将軍やフランスの為政者たちなどは実在の人物であり、当時の様子を興味深く読むことができました。ハイチが1804年にフランスから独立した、世界で初めての黒人による共和国であったこと、ハイチ革命を逃れたフランス人たちが大挙してアメリカのルイジアナに移住したこと、その後ナポレオンがルイジアナをアメリカに破格の値段で売ったこと等々、この本を読むまで知りませんでした。Khan Academyでハイチ革命のビデオをみつつ、背景知識を補完しながら読みました。




 “Island Beneath the Sea”, by Isabel Allende, is a story of Tete, a beautiful mulatto girl born as a slave in Saint-Domingue. In Saint-Domingue, now known as Haiti, sugar plantations came at the expense of slavery in the 18th century. Slaves were exploited by whites, and lived their short lives in misery. 

 Tete was bought by Valmorian, a rich Frenchman, and was brought to his plantation as a housemaid when she was a child. When she gave birth to a baby boy, her white master’s baseborn child, he took the child without her consent, and gave him to his friend. He didn’t think she was capable of mourning for her son as human mothers do.  At that time, slaves were not considered as humans, but as possessions, which were easily replaceable. 

 Tete gave birth to another girl, Rosette, against her will, and she never forgave her master for what he did to her. Although, when deserted slaves gathered force and declared a revolution against French authority, Tete helped Valmorian to escape the atrocity, and they abandoned his plantation, and fled with his legitimate son, Maurice, Tete, and his baseborn daughter, Rosette. They fled to Cuba, then settled in New Orleans to start a new plantation. 


Tete’s only wish was emancipation and a happy life for her daughter. She was emancipated before the Emancipation Proclamation, but discrimination against colored people remained long after her life. I’ve never imagined that skin color could have such a huge impact on people’s lives, and that there was a strict rule according to the appearance. 

 This fiction was based on history, and I learned a lot about the history of slavery, about which I knew almost nothing. I also learned that Haiti was the first black republic, which won its independence from France in 1804. I’m grateful that this book gave me an opportunity to know about slave’s lives, how they suffered, and won their freedom in the end.


 Island Beneath the Sea: A Novel (P.S.)


語数 11万5000語 (概算)



カテゴリー: 洋書 パーマリンク