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I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

3.75  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,465 Ratings  ·  131 Reviews
"Stunning...Maryse Conde's imaginative subversion of historical records forms a critque of contemporary American society and its ingrained racism and sexism." THE BOSTON SUNDAY GLOBE

At the age of seven, Tituba watched as her mother was hanged for daring to wound a plantation owner who tried to rape her. She was raised from then on by Mama Yaya, a gifted woman who shared wi
Paperback, 225 pages
Published January 3rd 1994 by Ballantine Books (first published 1986)
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Dec 16, 2015 Rowena rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"What is a witch? I noticed that when he said the word, it was marked with disapproval. Why should that be? Why? Isn't the ability to communicate with the invisible world, to keep constant links with the dead, to care for others and heal, a superior gift of nature that inspires respect, admiration, and gratitude?"- Maryse Condé, I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

With my interest in discovering hidden stories, this book was right up my alley. I can hardly think of a worse fate than being an enslav

I'm flabbergasted by anyone proclaiming the "death of the novel" in this day and age, I really am. Not only is the word "novel" built on arbitrary Eurocentric standards that weren't even validated by academia until men wrested the structure away from female writers, where's that infamous lust for weirdly wrought frontiers so proudly held up by the status quo? Is it the fanfiction spanning thousands of 250-word-average pages that scares one to pieces? Or is it the burgeoning non-European sen
Dec 19, 2013 Shawnta rated it it was amazing
Firstly, it haunts me still, that I have only heard of Condé from the recent call for papers for the upcoming 2013 Medgar Evers National Black Writers Conference. Immediately, I had to take a look at anything that was hers translated into English. What a magickal experience it was to read this fictional rendition of this mythic character for whom I have made many a frame of reference, but had not heard this version of her story.

Condé's writing is eloquent, sharp, intriguing, and will grip your
It is a rite of passage for many, if not all, American students to read Miller’s The Crucible. That pretty much is the coverage of the Salem Witch Trials, but not McCarthyism.
Conde’s book is the story of Tituba, who many see as the starting point of the Salem crisis. Conde’s plot starts with Tituba’s mother and her enslavement. The focus is on Tituba, not on the trials. Tituba’s mother and father’s tale is all too tragic, and all too true. Tituba’s escape and then her enslavement not only allow
Oct 27, 2010 Tinea rated it liked it
Feminist reclamation lit. At first glance, the Salem Witch Trials from the perspective of Tituba, the Black enslaved woman from Barbados who was the friend and first accused of the bewitched girls. Condé used this woman's jarring omission from history (a mere mention, and none of the later absolution given the other "witches," in most works about the Trials) to write an entire life-- inner and outer-- of which the witch trials play only a role. Tituba is a healer, an erotic lover (in contrast to ...more
Only fragments are known about the real woman known as Tituba, a black enslaved woman who was put on trial for sorcery during the Salem Witch Trials. In this book, Maryse Condé adds flesh to this mysterious woman, forming a dynamic and intriguing character. The tale is told in first person, and Tituba’s voice is one that is hard to forget. Even after closing the pages of the book, her voice continues to ring and echo in my mind.

Tituba’s story is one of almost continual heartache and suffering, i
Nov 22, 2015 Colette rated it really liked it
Would recommend this historically-based tale to readers looking to hear a different perspective on the Salem Witch Trials.
Sep 11, 2011 Alex rated it did not like it
It is risky to damn a clearly feminist text when you're a man. Thankfully, that is a risk I'm happy to take. There are times when we need to accept that quality does not mean ideology, and I feel this is a perfect example thereof.

For starters, there is a decided discrepancy between the book's decided purpose (giving a voice for a character in history who has been marginalized) and the actual result of any speculative historical fiction. This can be no more a true take on who Tituba was than the
David Anderson
Apr 06, 2016 David Anderson rated it really liked it
Condé takes a forgotten figure from history and gives her a compelling voice to tell her story. But be forewarned, this is not historical fiction. Stylistically this is a post-modern mock-epic that uses the known historical basics to rift on a large number of issues well beyond the religious bigotry of the Salem witch trials as they were treated by Arthur Miller in The Crucible, including slavery and racism, colonialism, and the patriarchy. The novel is intentionally anachronistic as Tituba at t ...more
May 12, 2008 Violetsin rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: teachers, friends, family.
Recommended to Violetsin by: teacher
if anything, this book was intense. i liked it, above all, but there were some very descriptive parts where not very pleasent things were going on, but i stuck through it and loved it all in the end.
basically, what happens is this: tituba somehow gets sold or bought into slavery and has to move to Salem, Mass. everyone knows about her healing powers, that she refuses to use for evil even though poeple tell her to, and she gets convicted of being a witch. even her own husband turns on her so he c
Nov 11, 2009 Arielle rated it liked it
Really interesting rewrite of history from the perspective of a woman who is rarely mentioned in the Salem witch trials. Combines elements of the Crucible and the Scarlet Letter to give Tituba a voice. Yet at times the story often feels like a high school writing assignment:" Make up a story where Tituba and Hester Prynne meet. Oh yes, and give Hester the viewpoint of a radical 1960s feminist." At times it feels very forced, and the lack of a coherent style (instead Conde uses several styles com ...more
Jasmine Daze
Feb 22, 2016 Jasmine Daze rated it really liked it
I was originally going to give the book 3 stars, but the interview with Condé in the afterword changed my appreciation for the book. I, Tituba... was a required text for a Feminism and Witchcraft module, so I was aware that Tituba was a real woman tried for witchcraft in Salem, who confessed. However, that is almost all that is known of Tituba. Her history is mostly fictionalised and has been retained as fact for years. Instead, what Condé does in I, Tituba... is give a voice to a woman, knowing ...more
Mar 13, 2014 Irina rated it really liked it
I picked up this book after my curiousity of the Salem witch trials was roused yet again. After reading fictional short story on an accused witch, followed by a non-fiction book on the subject, my attention turned to Tituba. My head just spun and spun trying to work out the details of her life, and to fill in the gaping holes that surround her story.

So, I came to this book with two goals: read more on Salem and read more on Tituba. I would say that his book doesn't deliver on the first goal. Whi
Oct 27, 2010 Silver rated it really liked it
I am fascinated with the Salem Witch trails and I loved the Crucible, one of my favorite characters from the Crucible was Tituba, though she did not play a very large role, I always found her quite intriguing so I loved the concept of this book and was quite excited about it.

After reading it I am left with mix feelings. On the one hand it was interesting to see things from the persepctive and to watch how things unraveled from an outsiders point of view and it was also interesting seeing the wa
Mar 31, 2015 Stacia marked it as abandoned  ·  review of another edition
You know what I've decided? I don't like reading books featuring Puritans. I never liked The Scarlet Letter or The Crucible, & while I, Tituba is an interesting premise, I can't take reading about her Puritan master.

I like the idea/voice of the book but am done with reading about the Puritan mindset.

Perhaps it is a book I can revisit someday down the road.
Aug 02, 2008 Allison rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a wonderful book to read if you have already read The Crucible or even The Scarlet Letter . It explores 17th century Puritan colonial society and the issue of the Salem witch hunts from a different point of view: that of the salve Tituba. Conde did excellent historical research and even quotes directly from the records of the trials found in the Salem court house. Ultimately this novel makes the reader examen the flaws of historical point of view and prejudice. The Salem witch trials i ...more
Ginnie Grant
Feb 14, 2014 Ginnie Grant rated it really liked it
I loved this book. it had enough fact mixed with the fiction that you could see it happening. You could really feel for Tituba and imagine how hard her life must have been. the fact that she was born free and chose a life of slavery for love is something that will outrage readers but upon further thought you realize that essentially that is what we all do. I enjoyed the untold backstory of this mysterious historical figure. I loved the friendship she formed with "Hester" in prison crossing over ...more
Jan 14, 2009 Paige rated it it was amazing
A mesmerizing novel about the Salem Witch Trials, from the perspective of the accused witch Tituba. This gripping tale is narrated by the West Indies slave who was at the center of the witchcraft hysteria. Although the historical record is pretty thin regarding Tituba’s life, Conde fleshes out her childhood in Barbados, her years as a slave in Salem, and her old age. In this telling, Tituba is endowed with a strong wit and she provides a searing criticism of the racism and sexism practiced by th ...more
Matt Sautman
Dec 29, 2015 Matt Sautman rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I, Tituba occupies a unique space within literature that takes a character or characters whom seems or seem either insignificant or is/are treated in a biased manner and allows that character/those characters to thrive. It is a genre consisting of works such as John Gardner's retelling of Beowulf, Grendel, and Tom Stoppard's retelling of Hamlet, Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead. I, Tituba, while directly re-envisioning aspects of Arthur Miller's The Crucible, uses the same source material a ...more
Sarah Bigelow
May 24, 2015 Sarah Bigelow rated it liked it
Shelves: reviewed, books-2015
Based on the prose alone, this is a five-star book. Conde's writing is deceptively simple and there are moments when the writing took my breath away. The first third of the novel especially is luminous, and I was especially fond of the way Conde described Tituba's interactions with the spirits of her loved ones.

However, once the novel departs Barbados for Massachusetts, it loses some of its flair. The writing is still lovely, and some of Conde's imagery, especially when Hester Prynn describes h
"What is a witch? I noticed that when he said the word, it was marked with disapproval. Why should that be? Why? Isn't the ability to communicate with the invisible world, to keep constant links with the dead, to care for others and heal, a superior gift of nature that inspires respect, admiration, and gratitude? Consequently shouldn't the witch [...] be cherished and revered rather than feared?" [...] "Everyone gives that word a different meaning. Everyone believes he can fashion a witch to his ...more
Jun 15, 2015 Kim rated it it was amazing
I got tired of hearing about Tituba in passing, so I decided to get and read the book.
It’s amazing, but it should not surprise me as to how little is known of African magic. Still, the thrust of the novel –and it is a novel, loosely based on history- is of a Barbados-born female slave and her passage from that land to Salem, Massachusetts, in being both ‘prized’ and despised because of her powers. I believe Tituba said it best:

Everyone gives that word [witch] a different meaning. Everyone believ
Jan 15, 2015 Ashley rated it it was amazing
Conde creates a complete story for Tituba rather than leaving her as a side note in history to be forgotten. She opens up a discourse in regards to feminism that is refreshing, in regards to both black women and women in general.
Denise Duncan
Sep 02, 2015 Denise Duncan rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015
La novela no está mal, pero la autora juega con ventaja: es probable que la mayoría de los lectores que abran el libro lo hagan movidos por la curiosidad de un relato medio conocido. Hablo de Tituba, la bruja negra tan presente en la obra “Las brujas de Salem” de Arthur Miller. Partiendo de que conozco muy bien la pieza de Miller (es de mis obras de teatro favoritas), tenía ya el estímulo y el impulso de leer este libro. Está bien narrado, es interesante, arroja luces sobre un personaje medianam ...more
Angie Taylor
Apr 21, 2015 Angie Taylor rated it really liked it
This is a very interesting fictional depiction of a real black woman named Tituba, who was accused of being a witch during the Salem Witch trials. From a historical point of view it was interesting and informative to learn about someone, even if the majority of the details are fictitious, for whom there is hardly and written documentation about. Slavery is portrayed in all its gory awfulness, and again has left me confused with history and why anyone could ever think slavery was okay. From a wri ...more
Kortney Jewell
Feb 09, 2014 Kortney Jewell rated it it was ok
This book had a beautiful start, but gets really boring after Tituba is put in prison. It starts to become repetitive.
Jan 03, 2015 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Five stars but for lack of subtlety

Damn! The beginning was so promising and then... This book would have been much better without the anachronisms and the oh-so-obvious agenda/reference to ideology. It's feminist and anti-racist and liberal and you know how I know? Because it states it! You can find the terms: racist, feminist, holocaust, welfare state in the book. They are mentioned by 17th century women! Thus what could have been an interesting, insightful, albeit fictional rendering of the li
Sep 22, 2008 Mindy rated it liked it
Read it in college. I remember liking it quite a bit as an alternate point of view to the Crucible story.
Tara Betts
Definitely not Arthur Miller's "The Crucible," and I mean that in a good way.
Zainab Jalloh
Aug 08, 2014 Zainab Jalloh rated it really liked it
Shelves: literature
I saw the documentary of the trail a long time ago, when I saw the book on my English teacher's syllabus I didn't make the connection. He recommended the book to the class and I thought the tittle was interesting so I read it and I immediately recognized the book as something extremely worthwhile. The first and perhaps most rewarding aspect of the book for me, was that it explored the experience of black women in the Witch trails, something that I'm not used to seeing. Usually blacks and witchcr ...more
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500 Great Books B...: I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem - Maryse Condé 2 20 Dec 18, 2014 12:32PM  
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Maryse Condé is a Guadeloupean, French language author of historical fiction, best known for her novel Segu. Maryse Condé was born as Maryse Boucolon at Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe, the youngest of eight children. In 1953, her parents sent her to study at Lycée Fénelon and Sorbonne in Paris, where she majored in English. In 1959, she married Mamadou Condé, an Guinean actor. After graduating, she ta ...more
More about Maryse Condé...

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“The truth always arrive too late because it walks slower than lies. Truth crawls at a snail's pace.” 10 likes
“Life is too kind to men, whatever their color.” 5 likes
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