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Marcelin Brothers

Marcelin Brothers

Marcelin Brothers (Philippe Thoby-Marcelin [b. 11 December 1904; d. 13 August 1975]; Pierre Marcelin [b. 20 August 1908]), Haitian writers.

Philippe Thoby-Marcelin added to his own name that of an uncle who adopted him. He published early verse in La nouvelle ronde and in La revue indigène. Studying in Paris, Philippe met Valéry Larbaud, who published some of his poems in La revue européenne (1928). He worked along the lines of the Indigenist movement to cast off French influence and write in a Haitian vein. From the forties onward, Thoby-Marcelin continued to make contact with a number of major writers—Nicolás Guillén, Alejo Carpentier, Aimé Césaire, André Breton, Malcolm Lowry (who dedicated the French translation of Under the Volcano to him), Langston Hughes, and others. He was cofounder of the Haitian Popular Socialist Party in 1946. He later served as an employee of the Haitian Department of Public Works and the Pan American Union.

Pierre Marcelin received his early schooling at Saint-Louis de Gonzague in Port-au-Prince. He lived in Cuba with his diplomat father for several years and published fiction in collaboration with his brother. Their Canapé-Vert (1942) was awarded first prize for the Latin American novel in 1943. The fiction of both Marcelins has been accused of offering a superficially touristic view of Haiti, but it has achieved greater readership than that of many Haitian writers.

See alsoLiterature: Spanish America .


Philippe Thoby-Marcelin: La négresse adolescente (poetry, 1932); Dialogue avec la femme endormie (poetry, 1941); Lago-Lago (poetry, 1943); Á fonds perdu (poetry, 1953); Panorama de l'art haïtien (1956); and Art in Latin America Today: Haiti (1959).

Philippe Thoby-Marcelin and Pierre Marcelin: La bête de Musseau (novel, 1946), translated as The Beast of the Haitian Hills (1951); Le crayon de Dieu (novel, 1946), translated as The Pencil of God (1951); Contes et légendes d'Haïti (1967), translated as The Singing Turtle and Other Tales (1971); and Tous les hommes sont fous (novel, 1980), translated as All Men Are Mad (1970).

See also Edmund Wilson, "The Marcelins—Novelists of Haiti," The Nation (14 October 1950): 341-344; Naomi M. Garret, The Renaissance of Haitian Poetry (1963), pp. 93-106; "In Memoriam, Philippe Thoby-Marcelin (1904–1975)," Présence Haïtienne 2 (September 1975): 11-15; F. Raphael Berrou and Pradel Pompilus, Histoire de la littérature haïtienne illustrée par les textes, vol. 3 (1977), pp. 143-150.

Additional Bibliography

Aub-Buscher, Gertrud, and Beverly Ormerod Noakes. The Francophone Caribbean Today: Literature, Language, Culture. Barbados: University of the West Indies Press, 2003.

Balutansky, Kathleen M., and Marie-Agnés Sourieau. Caribbean Creolization: Reflections on the Cultural Dynamics of Language, Literature, and Identity. Gainesville: University Press of Florida, 1998.

San Miguel, Pedro Luís. The Imagined Island: History, Identity&, Utopia in Hispaniola. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2005.

                                  Carrol F. Coates

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