Negeri Kaum Budak
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Negeri Kaum Budak

3.71 of 5 stars 3.71  ·  rating details  ·  1,550 ratings  ·  156 reviews

A few years after its liberation from the brutality of French colonial rule in 1803, Haiti endured a period of even greater brutality under the reign of King Henri-Christophe, who was born a slave in Grenada but rose to become the first black king in the Western Hemisphere. In prose of often dreamlike coloration and intensity, Alejo Carpentier records the destruction of th

Paperback, 172 pages
Published 2007 by Olongia (first published 1949)
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a brilliant and tragic novella about the Haitian liberation from French rule and the government which follows as seen through the eyes of Ti-Noel, a slave. along with mariano azuela's the underdogs i cannot think of a book that more effectively illustrates the final words of orwell's animal farm:

"No question now, what had happened to the faces of the pigs. The creatures outside looked from pig to man, and from man to pig, and from pig to man again; but already it was impossible to say which was...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Haiti. A slave revolt. The end of the French rule. The first Negro king. His overthrow. Slaves deposing masters, becoming new masters with their own slaves, then being thrown out themselves. "This endless return of chains, this rebirth of shackles, this proliferation of suffering, (this) proof of the uselessness of all revolt."

The language is laconic, desert-like and strange. Of legends and lore, superstitions, magical powers, numbing brutality, sex, alien names and places.

And a typo, towards th...more
My plan for the month is to read everything he's written. I bought this five hours ago and have read it twice.
Extraordinary. This is the book where Carpentier is credited with introducing the concept of "Magical Realism" (His actual term was "real marvelloso"). The book covers the history of Haiti from Macandal's uprising through the revolution that tossed out the French, to Henri Christophe's brutal regime and the building of his fortress that never fired a shot, to his downfall and the rise of the next brand of tyranny. The story is narrated through a few characters, but primarily through an ancient (...more
Zoe Brooks
This review first appeared on the magic realism blog -

This is arguably the book that launched Latin American magic realism. First published in 1949, the book opens with a prologue which sets out to distinguish what the Cuban author calls the "marvellous reality" of Latin America from the surrealist marvellous of Europe: But what many forget, in disguising themselves as cheap magicians, is that the marvellous becomes unequivocally marvellous when it arises...more
The Kingdom of This World is truly a must-read for anyone even remotely interested in Haiti. Alejo Carpentier’s vivid descriptions bring Haiti to life and acknowledge both the hardship and success its people have experienced for more than three hundred years. Perhaps most noteably, the novel offers a sharp contrast to many non-Haitian people’s notion that Haiti is simply another unimportant, undeveloped, Third World country and celebrates all that Haiti has overcome and its journey toward a bett...more
Brad Harder
There's no doubt that Carpentier's novel, "The Kingdom of This World," is a masterful exercise in story-telling. His construction of a free indirect third person narrator allows him to leverage a reader's sympathy for Ti Noël's experiences while also providing Carpentier with the freedom to move to other characters' perspectives throughout the novel. His inclusion of multiple viewpoints speaks to the heterogeneous complexity of Haiti's evolving identity during this time period and it also dramat...more
For a "literature and politics" class. Looking forward to it...

hyperviolent, blazingly paced, surreal, satirically grotesque, oeneric gallows humor elaborately detailed with its almost breathless nightmare of vision. It reminds me of the old canard about the monster of revolution eating its children, almost as if by natural law. The story of Haiti, in Carpentier's eyes, seems to match up with that rather grim proclamation.

They say this is one of the forerunner of magical realism, and it's not h...more
Interesting and beautiful. Not my cup of tea though.

By the way, since the distortedness of book and movie blurbs is a pet peeve of mine, let me reflect a bit on the racist boiler-plate pap that appears in the blurb above and (in a slightly different version) on the cover of my edition of the book. Here it is:

"A few years after its liberation from the brutality of French colonial rule in 1803, Haiti endured a period of even greater brutality under the reign of King Henri-Christophe, who was born...more
Walking, walking, up and down, down and up, the Negro began to think that the chamber music orchestras of San Souci, the splendor of the uniforms, and the statues of naked white women soaking up the sun on their scrolled pedestals among the sculptured boxwood hedging the flowerbeds were all the product of a slavery as abominable as that he had known on the plantation of M. Lenormand de Mézy. Even worse, for there was a limitless affront in being beaten by a Negro as black as oneself, as thick-li...more
Jocelyn Cassada
In the Kingdom of This World, Alejo Carpentier narrates the experience of the Haitian Revolution from the standpoint of an ordinary slave. I thought the novel was a fascinating account of the events surrounding the Revolution in Haiti and Carpentier really brings to life Haitian culture and traditions. I thought that the author's writing style was beautiful and lyrical, but I did find parts of the novel to be somewhat fragmented. For example, I am still struggling to understand how Pauline Bonap...more
Ellison Johnstone
Overall, this novel is a very captivating read. It contains immense historical value as it is extremely enlightening on the subject of the struggles in Haiti for true independence. The details of the storyline can become slightly confusing at times, but these details are really irrelevant as long as you can grasp the main idea that these uprisings will continue and corruption and greed will follow no matter who takes over control. In addition to the historical aspects of the novel, I found the c...more
Sajal M Shrestha
The tragedy of human existence is that it comprises of never ending struggles. From the moment we are conceived, the struggle to stay alive and to fulfill our wants is constant. Similar is the story told by Carpentier in The Kingdom of This World. On one hand, Carpentier beautifully mixes the turbulent history of Haiti with magical realism to explain the slave uprising. On a deeper level, Carpentier touches on the theme of constant cycle of repression and revolution, of greed and downfall, as pe...more
The Kingdom of this World is a novel written by Nobel Prize Winner, Alejo Carpentier. Although this work of art is considered a fictional novel, it contains important historical elements. The book describes Haitians’ struggle for their independence before, during, and after the Haitian Revolution from the perspective of a slave- Ti Noel. By describing vivid imagines, incorporating excerpts in Creole language, and including real life people from Haitian history, Carpentier takes us through the ma...more
Claire Rasberry
I thoroughly enjoyed this book, even more than the first time I read it a year ago. What I especially enjoyed about the novel this time was that I paid close attention to the musical references throughout, which made the worlds of pre- and post-revolutionary Haiti, Cuba, and Italy come alive for me as a reader. Through the conch shell horns that signaled the official beginning of the revolution, the drum beats that signaled the end of Henry Christophe's tyrannical reign, the Hymn of St. Louis an...more
In short, I thoroughly enjoyed Carpentier's "Kingdom of this World". His success in developing images is tantamount to his achievements in weaving the magical with the real. For me, these magical images were the driving force of the book in lieu of relatively untraditional and lacking narrative structure. As I mentioned, I believe the power of this book to be in the images, but an element unique to Carpentier I found was his ability to present a believable image without being longwinded. He is a...more
Beau Craparo
Alejo Carpentier uses his novel The Kingdom of This World to warn Cuban citizens about the risks involved with overthrowing the government. Carpentier describes the fictional life of Ti Noel, a slave who takes part in the Haitian Revolution, to help warn his countrymen about how revolutionary leaders can abandon their promises of a better life for the average citizen in order to achieve greater personal glory and wealth. His writing shows that people must have realistic expectations for the fut...more
El reino de este mundo is peculiar for various reasons. Its brevity and attention to historical circumstances make it rather more an historical novella than a novel, for one. For another, it's a rare example of a work of Spanish American fiction that indexes for its inspiration the events of the revolutions of Haiti (against France) and Haitian slaves (against landowners). Even within the oeuvre of Alejo Carpentier, one of world literature's fundamental twentieth-century writers, arguably just a...more
Kahena Joubert

The Kingdom of This World by Alejo Carpentier is a novel filled with riveting images and metaphors relating to the Haitian liberation from France. The novel provides an interesting perspective on the Haitian Revolution as it accurately portrays history leaving out the boring dates and text that normally causes a reader to lose interest in a work. Here, Carpentier presents Haitian history though the life of Ti Noel, the one character present in all four parts of the book. Carpentier’s book is div...more
Me gusta la prosa de Carpentier, evocadora de la exuberancia del Caribe. Hace ya años que he leído 'El siglo de las luces' y 'Los pasos perdidos', novelas que en mi memoria son superiores a esta 'El reino de este mundo', pero la sensación al acometer sus primeros párrafos fue la de reencuentro, de reconocimiento de un autor magistral.
En la novela se narra una de esas 'epopeyas desconocidas' que jalonan la Historia y que en la energía de su comienzo parecen capaces de marcar un nuevo destino para...more
Candace Bethea
Alejo Carpentier's The Kingdom of This World follows the lifespan of Ti Noel, a Haitian man witness to slavery, rebellion, revolution, and violence in the land that he loves. This story of the Haitian revolution connects the colonial ways of the New World to the natural, passionate ways that the Haitians embraced. Carpentier’s makes his work memorable by creating passionate images and using powerful emotions in his characters to evoke a feeling of restlessness in the reader. The way that Carpent...more
Johan Garcia
The Kingdom of This World is an intriguing account of local story but one who that is not confined to the parameters of locality or region. The Haitian Revolution is witnessed through the eyes of Ti Noël, a slave who endures the pain of never-ending oppression, first under the French colonial rule and then under the unforgiving hand of Henri Christophe. With vivid accounts, painted with Voodoo chants and magic realism, the reader observes a struggle for freedom and peace amidst an overwhelming o...more
Mary Elizabeth
Alejo Carpentier’s The Kingdom of this World introduces the reader to the world of Latin American literature and culture while retaining a sense of global connectivity. Immediately the reader is drawn in before reading a page, when confronted with questions about what “kingdom” and what “world” is referred to by the title. I think the reader is continuously confronted with these questions through to the last page. While Carpentier is telling the story of the Haitian experience, he is able to ill...more
The Kingdom of this World describes the struggles Haitians encountered and how these battles marked their history, identity and culture. This novel constitutes one of the most significant pieces of literature of the region because it does not only portrait the strength with which tyrants such as Lenormand de Mézy and Henri Christophe ruled over these people, but also the strength with which Haitians fought against the repressive powers in order to obtain their freedom. Carpentier contrasts slave...more
Lee Tackett
This book was somewhat difficult to read given the short nature of many of the passages. Carpentier took a interesting angle in developing his narrative about a Haitian rebellion. Rather than romanticize the nature of such a movement, he instead was extremely graphic in his descriptions of the rebellion its self and its aftermath. I thought this was particularly effective because it seemed very authentic. The authenticity was enhanced by Carpentier's choice to tell the story through the eyes of...more
Andrea Siso
Though Carpentier richly portrays the history surrounding the Haitian Revolution and successfully describes the unending cycle of human suffering and strife, I felt that his language was unnecessarily bombastic and verbose. This drove me away from delving further into the story, and actually caused his characters to fall flat, in my view. Many of Carpentier's passages are gorgeously written, and thus alone are able to stand. Yet, when placed all together, the prose became too dense to digest. I...more
A very surreal reading experience...

A re-writing of Haiti's colonial history. Meshes with the marvelous the long lineage of slavery in Haiti from the French colonial rule, through the unexpected brutality of a slave-turned-king, to the equal torment inflicted by the mulattoes. The novel's ultimate decolonizing stance is its use of the Vodou to awaken the slaves and revolt against the imperial power.

People into history and magic realism will treasure this.
Nick Marsellas
Carpentier’s The Kingdom of this World tells the historical tale of the Haitian slave rebellion, and the subsequent rule and overthrow of slave turned tyrant, Henri Christophe. Life in Haiti after “liberation” from colonial rule is little different, possibly even worse under Henri Christophe, but the situation is eventually resolved. This book emphasizes that slavery goes against nature (at least according to Carpentier). This can be seen through various stylistic images, but especially in the c...more
Dylan Grant
Magical realism at its magical realistic. I read this for a humanities class in college, and boy was I surprised the professor included this. I'm an English major so I enjoyed it, but I imagine my classmates must have detested this novella. Lots of wtf moments that really add a sense of magic to this realistic depiction of the Haitian revolution, like the metamorphoses section and the ending. Recommended to anybody interested in the time leading up to and the aftermath of the Haitian revolution,...more
Marc Kozak
This was a quick, enjoyable book about the progress of Haiti in the 1800s. It's one of the earliest examples of what we're now calling "magical realism", so every once in a while we have a guy who turns into any animal he thinks of, or a ghost who arrives and is very spooky and forces dramatic changes in politics. Y'know, the usual.

In a very Animal Farm fashion, the Haitian slaves revolt and overthrow their masters only to create a society based on even harsher slavery and inequality. The meat o...more
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Cuban novelist, essayist, and musicologist who greatly influenced Latin American literature during its "boom" period.

Perhaps Cuba's most important intellectual figure of the twentieth century, Alejo Carpentier (1904-1980) was a novelist, a classically trained pianist and musicologist, a producer of avant-garde radio programming, and an influential theorist of politics and literature. Best known f...more
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“Now he understood that a man never knows for whom he suffers and hopes. He suffers and hopes and toils for people he will never know, and who, in turn, will suffer and hope and toil for others who will not be happy either, for man always seeks a happiness far beyond that which is meted out to him. But man's greatness consists in the very fact of wanting to be better than he is. In laying duties upon himself. In the Kingdom of Heaven there is no grandeur to be won, inasmuch as there all is an established hierarchy, the unknown is revealed, existence is infinite, there is no possibility of sacrifice, all is rest and joy. For this reason, bowed down by suffering and duties, beautiful in the midst of his misery, capable of loving in the face of afflictions and trials, man finds his greatness, his fullest measure, only in the Kingdom of this World.” 12 likes
“In the Kingdom of Heaven, there is no grandeur to be won, inasmuch as there all is an established hierarchy, the unknown is revealed, existence is infinite, there is no possibility of sacrifice, all is rest and joy. For this reason, bowed down by suffering and duties, beautiful in the midst of his misery, capable of loving in the face of afflictions and trials, man finds his greatness, his fullest measure, only in The Kingdom of This World.” 7 likes
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