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Alejo Carpentier: El reino de este mundo (The Kingdom of this World)

In 1944, Carpentier went to Haiti and came back with this idea for a novel. It is the story of Mackandal, a slave who led a revolt against the French. While using historical texts to tell his story, Carpentier jumps backward and forward in time and place, with Ti Noël as the only constant. For the blacks (including Ti Noël and Mackandal), voodoo is the release from the oppression of the whites and it is this aspect that gives the novel its magic realist aspect, as they tend to view things through this mirror while the whites tend to see the situation as one of their political control and a threat to this control. Carpentier also shows the cyclical nature of history as we move from oppression to revolt and then round again. It is Ti Noël who finally comes to realize that the solution is in this world and not the other. In other words, struggle against oppression is the solution.

Publishing history

First published in 1949 by Edición y Distribución Ibero Americana de Publicaciones, Mexico
First English translation 1957 by Knopf
Translated by Harriet de Onís (Knopf edition, Frances Partridge (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)