By Maria Hebert-Leiter
Hebert-Leiter examines the complete historical past of the Acadian, or Cajun, in American literature, starting with Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s poem Evangeline and the writings of George Washington Cable, together with his novel Bonaventure. The cultural complexity of Acadian and Creole identities led many writers to depend upon stereotypes in Acadian characters, yet as Hebert-Leiter exhibits, the anomaly of Louisiana’s classification and racial divisions additionally allowed writers to deal with complicated and controversial—and occasionally taboo—subjects. She emphasizes the fiction of Kate Chopin, whose brief tales comprise Acadian characters permitted as white americans through the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Representations of the Acadian in literature replicate the Acadians’ course in the direction of assimilation, as they celebrated their transformations whereas nonetheless adopting an all-American proposal of self. In twentieth-century writing, Acadian figures got here to be extra known as Cajun, and more and more outsiders perceived them now not easily as unique or mythic beings yet as advanced individuals who healthy into conventional American society whereas reflecting its cultural variety. Hebert-Leiter explores this transition in Ernest Gaines’s novel a meeting of previous males and James Lee Burke’s detective novels that includes Dave Robicheaux. She additionally discusses the works of Ada Jack Carver, Elma Godchaux, Shirley Ann Grau, and different writers.
From Longfellow via Tim Gautreaux, Acadian and Cajun literature captures the phases of this interesting cultural dynamism, making it a pivotal a part of any historical past of yank ethnicity and of Cajun tradition specifically. Concise and available, turning into Cajun, changing into American offers an outstanding creation to American Acadian and Cajun literature.
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Extra resources for Becoming Cajun, Becoming American: The Acadian in American Literature from Longfellow to James Lee Burke (Southern Literary Studies)
Becoming Cajun, Becoming American: The Acadian in American Literature from Longfellow to James Lee Burke (Southern Literary Studies) by Maria Hebert-Leiter