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I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem

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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 with her the secrets of healing and magic. But it was Tituba's love of the slave John Indian that led her from safety into slavery, and the bitter, vengeful religion practiced by the good citizens of Salem, Massachusetts. Though protected by the spirits, Tituba could not escape the lies and accusations of that hysterical time.

As history and fantasy merge, Maryse Condé, acclaimed author of Tree of Life and Segu, creates the richly imagined life of a fascinating woman.

225 pages, Paperback

First published January 1, 1986

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About the author

Maryse Condé

91 books685 followers
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 taught in Guinea, Ghana, and Senegal. In 1981, she divorced, but the following year married Richard Philcox, English language translator of most of her novels.

Condé's novels explore racial, gender, and cultural issues in a variety of historical eras and locales, including the Salem witch trials in I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem and the 19th century Bambara Empire of Mali in Segu.

In addition to her writings, Condé had a distinguished academic career. In 2004 she retired from Columbia University as Professor Emeritus of French. She had previously taught at the University of California, Berkeley, UCLA, the Sorbonne, The University of Virginia, and the University of Nanterre.

In March 2007, Condé was the keynote speaker at Franklin College Switzerland's Caribbean Unbound III conference, in Lugano, Switzerland.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 998 reviews
Profile Image for leynes.
1,116 reviews3,036 followers
December 5, 2022
REVIEW (2022):
In 2020, I first read I, Tituba in the original French and fell in love with its titular character, the narrative as a whole, and the postcolonial practice of writing back that Maryse Condé, a Black writer from Guadeloupe, implemented in this book. I have reviewed (and summarised) this book extensively (see below) and so I will only talk about the new realisations I had during my reread.

First and foremost, this time around, I read the book in its English translation. Partly because my French isn't excellent and so I knew I was missing some nuances/meanings in the story the first time around, and partly because I am just curious about translations in general, they fascinate me. And so I wasn't all that surprised that I, Tituba had a very different feel in English than it had in French (to me). It wasn't as magical, as thrilling, and exciting. That can be attributed to the fact that I knew the narrative fairly well going into it (so there weren't many surprises) but also because English is a lot more "matter of fact" to me as opposed to the more lyrical and beautiful French. Nonetheless, I immensely enjoyed the English translation and would recommend this version to anyone who can't speak French.

Secondly, I would like to give a trigger warning for rape. The first time around I didn't quite understand what the jailers did to Tituba in her cell and just how graphically Condé describes the rape. So be wary of that!

Thirdly, I would like to talk a little bit more about Tituba as a character. As much as I love her, there's also a part of me that's really frustrated by her actions. From the beginning it becomes clear that she is "special", she was cancelled out by Mama Yaya to be taught "witchcraft", basically healing powers and the ability to converse with the invisible world (ghosts). Tituba, as opposed to her mentor, is a proud girl though. Early on, she thinks: "Tituba must be loved." And that sentiment right there seems to be her downfall. But at least she's conscious about it, as she reflects in the afterlife: "I myself have loved men too much and continue to do so." (You go, girl.)

In the book, Condé explores what freedom means, what it means to sacrifice one's freedom for love, and how differently female desire can be shaped. Tituba loves to be loved. Throughout the book, she often gives up her freedom and chooses bondage to be with the men she has fallen in love with. Seeing her often dysfunctional and power-unbalanced relationships play out, Condé makes the reader ask themselves if men are capable of love in the first place, or are they just capable of possession and subjugation?

Through her relationship to the imprisoned Hester, Tituba comes to the realisation that "Life is too kind to men, whatever their color." And even though I understand where she is coming from, this statement truly undermines the horrors that enslaved (Black) men went through. Even though there's much to take fault with with Tituba's first husband, John Indian, I think it's truly unfair to claim that life had been "too kind" to him.

What makes Tituba a fascinating character is her relationship to freedom. Throughout the book, most of the Black (enslaved) people she meets tell her that it is her duty to survive ("The duty of a slave is to survive."). Tituba, however, wants more than survival. Hers is a pursuit of happiness and freedom. When Mama Yaya tells her that she wouldn't know what to do with freedom in the first place and Deodatus asks her contemptuously: "What will your freedom mean if your own people are in bondage?", Tituba is undeterred. Realising that the world she lives in is hell for Black people, she decides to kill her unborn child. ("If the world were going to receive my child, then it would have to change.")

Many of the discussion of what freedom for Black women can look like, reminded me of Toni Morrison's works, especially Sula and Beloved. Sula tries to seek the freedom of white men, only to end up alone and without friends on her death bed. Sethe kills her own 2-year-old daughter for fear of her enslavement. Both Condé's and Morrison's female characters rely on strong female relationships to sustain themselves: Sula and Nelly, Sethe and Denver, Tituba and Mama Yaya, and Elizabeth Parris, and Hester.

Lastly, I wanna talk about the ending of the novel. It has become clear that Tituba, though a victim, refuses to be victimised. Condé positions her as a subject. She is feeling. She feels rage and pain. And takes action. That action accumulates when she finally sets foot on her native land, Barbados, again toward the end of the novel. There, Condé opens up the interesting question what would happen if Black folks not only wanted freedom and equality, but revenge, revenge for all the harm that's been done to them and their people.

Tituba joins a band of local maroons whose leader Christopher is. One thing of note is that Christopher asks Tituba to make him invincible with her magical powers. This trope truly reminded me of She Would Be King and I am now convinced that Wayétu Moore was actually inspired for the premise of her debut novel by Condé's I, Tituba. Anyways, moving on, after being shunned by Christopher, Tituba finds solace with a young enslaved man Iphigene, and the two plot a revolt together. When Christopher betrays them, Tituba and her new lover die. Condé presents her death as a relief, as it is only in the afterlife that Tituba can truly be free, find solace, and take action in a successful way (i.e. as a spirit, she harden's Black people's hearts to fight, and inspires disobedience and the will for rebellion. in them).

Personally, I found this message to be a bit confusing and uncomfortable. It's something that's echoed in Morrison as well. The idea that Black women can only find true solace, peace and freedom in death. I don't wanna definitely that that isn't true, as none of us will experience a world without racism, structural discrimination and violence, yet I'd like to believe that some form of freedom (or at least the feeling of it) is possible for all of us ... in life, not in death.

REVIEW (2020):
Wow. Wow. Wow. I have no words. I was recommended this book by my Black literature professor, and I already knew that all of her recommendations slap ... so I don't know why I am as shocked as I am right now but this book, man, this book is it. I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem will go down as one of my favorites of 2020, if not of all time.

Before we get into it (and boy, we will get into it), I would look to draw your attention to the wonderful Maryse Condé who crafted this masterpiece. Maryse Condé is a Guadeloupean novelist, critic and playwright and all her works explore the African diaspora that resulted from slavery and colonialism in the Caribbean. She writes in French (and if you're able to speak the language, I'd highly advise reading her work in the original because damn, this woman can write) but her novels have been translated into English, German, Dutch, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, and Japanese, so make sure to check them out!

All her novels explore racial, gender and cultural issues in a variety of historical eras and locales, so there should be something for everyone's liking: Ségou is set in the 19th-century Bamabara Empire of Mali, The Tree of Life concerns itself with the building of the Panama Canal in the 20th century and its influence on increasing the West Indian middle class, and then in I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem she treats us to a unique and never been done before look at the Salem witch trials at the end of the 17th century in colonial Massachusetts. Another book worth mentioning is Windward Heights, her very own adaption of Wuthering Heights in a Caribbean setting. [I know that this will be the next Condé that I'll write ... I've been dying to get my hands on an explicitly Black Heathcliff for years now!]

Maryse Condé has kept considerable distance from most Caribbean literary movements, such as Negritude and Creolité, and has often focused on topics with strong feminist and political concerns. A radical activist in her work as well as in her personal life, Condé has admitted: "I could not write anything... unless it has a certain political significance. I have nothing else to offer that remains important."

Now, that I've hopefully piqued your interest in Maryse Condé's writing, let's get into the historical background of Tituba, since it'll explain why Condé's book is so brave and necessary.

Tituba was the first woman to be accused of practicing witchcraft during the 1692 Salem witch trials. She was enslaved and owned by Samuel Parris of Danvers, Massachusetts. Although her origins are debated, research has suggested that she was a South American native and sailed from Barbados to New England with Samuel Parris.

Little is known regarding Tituba's life prior to her enslavement. She became a pivotal figure in the witch trials when she confessed to witchcraft while also making claims that both Sarah Good and Sarah Osborne participated in said witchcraft. She was imprisoned and later released by Samuel Conklin, but little to nothing is known about Tituba's life following her subsequent release.

Maryse Condé has taken it upon herself to breathe life into this woman's life story. In her fictitious account of her life, I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem, Maryse Condé moves Tituba from the margins, to which she was condemned by historians and scholars alike, to the centre. In the true fashion of the postcolonial practice of "writing back", Maryse Condé gives voice to a woman that history has neglected and tossed aside for way too long.

In recent years works such as Jean Rhys's Wide Sargasso Sea, J.M. Coetzee's Foe and Peter Carey's Jack Maggs, which 'write back' to classic English texts, have attracted considerable attention as offering a paradigm for the relationship between postcolonial writing and the 'canon'. Like Toni Morrison once said, the absence of Blackness [or people of color, to put it in broader terms] is also a presence, it lingers in every work of white classic literature that we read. When we read books by white authors that feature only white characters and were intended for a white audience, the question about the 'other' are always subconsciously on our minds. Where are the people of color in these narratives? Through 'writing back' postcolonial writers manage to place people of color right back at the centres of narratives, where they belong.

I think a lot of people would benefit from reading and engaging with postcolonial literature as it makes ourselves aware of the gaps in our bookshelves, our education, our minds ... it centres voices that have been silenced for way too long. Therefore, I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem is a must-read for everyone. It cannot be that revered classics about the Salem witch trials don't mention Tituba at all, or place her at the sidelines with next to no significance (like Arthur Miller's The Crucible).
Je hurlai et plus je hurlais, plus j’éprouvais le désire de hurler. De hurler ma souffrance, ma révolte, mon impuissante colère. Quel était ce monde qui avait fait de moi une esclave, une orpheline, une paria? Quel était ce monde qui me séparait des miens? Qui m’obligeait à vivre parmi des gens qui ne parlaient pas ma langue, qui ne partageaient pas ma religion, dans un pays malgracieux, peu avenant?

[translation] I screamed and the more I screamed, the more I felt the desire to scream. To scream out my suffering, my revolt, my impotent anger... What was this world that had made me a slave, an orphan, an outcast? What was this world that separated me from my own? What was this world that forced me to live among people who did not speak my language, who did not share my religion, in a country that was crude and not very accommodating?
In the Condé's novel, Tituba is biracial, born on Barbados to a young African slave woman who was raped by an English sailor. Tituba's mother is hanged after defending herself from the sexual advances of her white owner. Tituba is run off the plantation and becomes a maroon, having no owner, but not able to connect to society. She grows up living with an old spiritual herbalist named Mama Yaya [whom I absolutely adored, like she was the best], and learning about traditional healing methods. She falls in love and marries a slave, John Indian, willing to return to slavery on his behalf. [This is just the first of many questionable choices Tituba makes for her lover(s).]

Shortly thereafter, Tituba and John Indian are sold to Samuel Parris, the Puritan clergyman known historically for bringing about the Salem Witch Trials. Parris takes Tituba and John Indian to Boston, then to Salem Village, where Tituba is accused of witchcraft and arrested. Tituba is thrown into a cell with a pregnant Hester Prynne, the heroine from Nathaniel Hawthorne's novel The Scarlet Letter. The bond that these women form ... I cannot put into words how much their relationship and love and care for each other meant to me. Like, Condé really did that.

Tituba survives the trials by confessing, and is sold as a servant to a Jewish merchant, Benjamin Cohen d'Azevedo. She cares for Benjamin and his nine children until the Puritans set fire to the house, killing all the children. He decides to set her free, and sends her back to Barbados.

Tituba initially stays with a group of maroons, sleeping with their leader, Christopher, who dreams of immortality. She returns to the shack where she had lived with Mama Yaya, and works as a healing herbalist for the slaves in the area. The slaves bring her a young man, Iphigene, who they thought would die, but Tituba nurses him back to health. He plans a revolt against the plantation owners. The night before the revolt, the couple are arrested. They and his followers are hanged. Tituba and Iphigene join the spirit realm, inciting future revolts whenever possible.

Maryse Condé really manages to make Tituba come to life. No matter how unbelievable some of the things that happen to her are, Tituba always feels real. She is very human, with the ability to make mistakes. Many of her irrational and seemingly illogical decisions are inspired by listening to her heart, not her head. She is perhaps one of the most relatable characters in historical fiction, possessing very modern views on sexual liberation and showing respect for the beliefs of others which differ from her own.

I, Tituba: Black Witch of Salem is, despite its heavy themes, SUCH A FUN BOOK. I know, a bit weird ... but Maryse Condé writes in such a fun, fresh, inspiring and empowering way ... you cannot help to fall in love with Tituba. Her wit, her sarcasm, the way she details the hypocrisy of the (often religious) societies that she finds herself in. This novel is such a treat. It made me so damn happy. It's such a playful novel that still manages to tear on your heartstrings. This book is everything!
Profile Image for Rowena.
501 reviews2,516 followers
December 17, 2015
"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 enslaved black woman in the New World in the 17th Century. I know about the Salem Witch Trials but I didn't know that there was a black witch who had played a role. Tituba, who was born and raised in Barbados but moved to America, ends up playing such a pivotal role in the Salem witch trials, yet I'd never heard of her until I came across this book. I think it's obvious that what was omitted in history clearly shows what (or who) has been valued in history. It also shows that in many cases black people weren't even considered worthy of a footnote.

Angela Davis' foreword is very powerful, and one part I kept coming back to because it resonated with me, as I believe it would resonate with anyone who wasn't taught their proper history:

"Tituba looked for her story in the history of the Salem witch trials and could not find it. I have looked for my history in the story of the colonization of this continent and I have found silences, omissions, distortions, and fleeting, enigmatic insinuations."

But literature is powerful and gives life and a voice to people long dead and sometimes long forgotten. It is indeed a moment of triumph when Condé decided to give Tituba a voice. Even if someone didn't get justice then, they can at least get some sense of justice through literature, especially when their story, which may have been ridiculed, is finally understood.

"Tituba's revenge consists in having persuaded one of her descendants to rewrite her own moment in history in her own African oral tradition."
Profile Image for Beverly.
835 reviews313 followers
March 12, 2021
Tituba finds out soon enough in Salem, that,". . . .evil is a gift received at birth. There is no acquiring it. Those of us who have not come into this world armed with spurs and fangs are losers in every combat." And also that, "The truth always arrives too late because it walks slower than lies. Truth crawls at a snail's pace."

I enjoyed Tituba's thoughts and how the Puritans looked through her eyes. She is filled with loving kindness and only wants to use her gift with herbs and stories to help heal peopele and entertain children, but it is not to be. Her story is not an uncommon one though. In the history of the United States (as the writer puts so forcefully of)," . . . narrow-mindedness, hypocrisy, and racism, little has changed since the days of the Puritans." This is not a retelling of Tituba's story, since almost nothing is known about her, except for some trial transcripts, so the author does a reimagining of what she might have been like and what she might have thought about this strange world she had been brought to.
Profile Image for Tahani Shihab.
592 reviews871 followers
November 13, 2020
“الموتى لا يموتون إلَّا متى ماتوا في قلوبنا. يظلُّون على قيد الحياة إذا ما ظللنا على حبِّهم، إذا ما كرَّمنا ذكراهم، إذا ما وضعنا على قبورهم ما كانوا يؤثِرونه في حياتهم من طعامٍ؛ وإذا ما انكفأنا على ذواتنا، على فتراتٍ منتظمة، كي نتَّصل بذكراهم”.

“الرجال لا يحبُّون. إنَّهم يتملَّكون. يَستبعدون”.

“ما أعجبهُ حُبَّ الوطن! نحملهُ معنا كما نحملُ دماءنا، كما نحملُ أعضاءنا. ويكفي أن يُفرَّقَ بيننا وبين أرضنا، لنُحسَّ وجعًا يصعدُ من أعمقِ أعماقِ كياننا، وجعًا لا يهدأ”.

“كيف سيصير العالمُ إن خافت نساؤنا؟ سينهارُ العالمُ! ستنهارُ قبَّتهُ، والنجوم التي تزيِّنُها ستسقط معفَّرةً في ترابِ الطرقات!”.

“لا تصيري مثلهم، هم الذين لا يعرفون إلَّا الشرَّ!”.

“إنَّ الشراسةَ موهبةٌ تمنحُ للإنسانِ بالولادة. إنَّها لا تُكتسبُ. من لم يأتِ منَّا إلى العالم مسلَّحًا بالمخالبِ والأنياب، سيخسر كلّ معركةٍ يخوضها”.

“ساذجٌ هو من يظنُّ أنَّه يكفي أن يُعلنَ براءته لكي يُثبتها! ساذجٌ من يجهل أنَّ الخيرَ المبذولَ تجاه الأشرارِ أو الضعفاءِ ينقلبُ شرًَّا!”.

“إنَّ الحياة رفيقةٌ بالرجالِ، سواءٌ أكانوا بيضًا أو سودًا!”.

“أين الشيطان؟ أليس يختفي في تضاعيف معاطفِ القضاة؟ أليس يتحدَّث بلسان القضاة ورجال الكنيسة؟”.

“الحقيقة دائمًا تصل متأخِّرة، لأنَّها تمشي أبطأ من الكذب”.
Profile Image for Aubrey.
1,360 reviews794 followers
December 17, 2015

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 sense of the word nibbling at the bulwarks of colonial sanctity that's walking over one's grave? Whatever it is, it's exemplified by this book here, one written more than 20 years ago and still sparking enraged "It's not historical fiction! It's not apolitical (an impossible state btw)! I can't like it if I can't pigeonhole it!" in the reviews below. Despite the absurdity of the lot, I can't help but look fondly on such flustered hullabaloo, for it's guaranteed to lead me somewhere interesting.

If you mixed Mr. Fox and Omeros together, you wouldn't get anything like this, but it's a good grounding for the postmodern-parody-forging-of-identity-reclamation-of-post-colonial-culture jargon one's going to be throwing out whenever someone encounters a black female writer who doesn't write in English about serious endeavors with which she insists of having fun. Fun's a poor word for it, but 'joyful humanity' is a bit too bogged, so find your own worded intermediary in this tale of Tituba, come back to get her revitalizing revenge on a slighting history that is never about the usual death and destruction and all that patriarchal jazz, but life. There's torture and murder and not a bit of shying away from the reek of bodily functions propagated by poor pieces of historical works that encourages such misbegotten yearnings for a time of little bathing and no indoor plumping, but ultimately, there is life.

Getting back to the "death of the novel", I'd believe it if there weren't works like these so concerned with the erasure of history, the eradication of selves due to physical characteristics, and the creation of a rich and wonderful reality through the powers of composition and a devil-may-care equalizing of "truth" and humanity. Times may have changed, but the world remains one where the very existence of certain combinations of traits in particular persons is cause for consternation and critical evaluation, making for works such as these that question the reader as much as the values of past, present, and future. Best of all, this is no looming straightjacket of academic hogwash, but a fascinating piece of sex and magic and areas of the world too often brushed over by official pens and papers. In short, those "death of the novel"-ers don't know what they're missing.

P.S. Bisexuality! They didn't say it, but fanfiction senses don't lie.
Profile Image for Iloveplacebo.
384 reviews212 followers
February 7, 2023
3'75 / 5

Me ha gustado conocer a Tituba, pero tengo que decir que esperaba que el libro me gustara más. Aún así es un libro que merece la pena ser leído, sobre todo para ver la barbarie de la especie humana.

Una pequeña "reseña/resumen" con spoilers. Aunque estos spoilers son cosas que se saben, pero por si acaso aviso.

Como vivir entre la mala suerte y la vida:

Nace tras la violación de un blanco a su madre.
Matan a su madre porque, o señor, ella intentaba que su "amo" no la violara.
Su padre (un padre no biológico, pero que la quería como si lo fuera) también muere. Se suicida porque lo venden a otro amo, alejándolo de Tituba, como castigo por lo que hizo su mujer.
Pierde a la mujer que la crio desde la muerte de sus padres.
Se enamora de un hombre que, aunque no la trata mal, es un cobarde, y le dará la espalda.
La familia a la que sirve, muy puritanos ellos, le acusan de bruja, y le dan la espalda.
El judío al que sirve después de los juicios la trata bien, pero se tienen que separar.
Llega a su tierra natal solo para que la vuelvan a hacer sufrir.
Por supuesto no tiene un final feliz.

Tituba es una mujer muy fuerte, lo demuestra con todo lo que tiene que vivir, con todo lo que tiene que aguantar, y con todo a lo que sobrevive.
Merecía una vida mejor, pero al menos nos queda que al otro lado parece feliz.
Profile Image for Carol Rodríguez.
368 reviews24 followers
September 29, 2018
Este libro es ficción histórica, habla de los juicios de Salem de 1692, sí, pero también de muchas otras cosas. Está narrado en primera persona por la propia Tituba, que nace en la isla de Barbuda y cuya madre, una esclava llevada allí desde África, ha sido violada por un blanco. Tenemos aquí una historia sobre la esclavitud y sobre las dificultades de las mujeres, tanto negras como blancas, para lograr respeto y libertad. Es un libro potente, triste y vibrante, entretenido y en ningún momento estancado.

Sobre la persona de Tituba es una interpretación libre, ya que realmente no se sabe cómo acabó sus días esta mujer y se dijeron muchas cosas sobre ella, pero es la herramienta para acercarnos a todos estos momentos históricos tan lamentables. He sentido mucha tristeza con este libro, pero es de esos relatos que hay que leer. No se lleva las 5 estrellas porque la parte final puede que me pareciera algo más rebuscada.
Profile Image for Amalia (◍•ᴗ•◍)❤.
298 reviews61 followers
September 13, 2022
La autora nos relata la vida de Tituba, basada en hechos reales excepto el final. Este, aparte de ser impactante, la autora nos dice que habría sido el mejor para la protagonista.
The author tells us the life of Tituba, based on real events except the end. This, apart from being shocking, the author tells us that it would have been the best for the protagonist.
Profile Image for Teresa.
Author 8 books817 followers
March 7, 2018
4.75 (the last-quarter star left off due to my own failings)

I came to this novel expecting historical fiction of a sort, a reimagining and expansion of the story of a woman central to the Salem witch trials of the 17th century. Though the author makes use of the historical record, this is not ‘mere’ historical fiction; it’s so much more: folklore, feminist text, epic tale, even speculative fiction of a sort.

Condé works from one of the assertions that Tituba was from Barbados, taken from there by Reverend Parris, who eventually settles in the village of Salem (different from the town of Salem, not sure I realized that before), now Danvers. Condé’s story starts with Tituba narrating her conception, the rape of her mother, an Ashanti woman, by a white English sailor on a slave ship ironically named Christ the King, part of the slave trade from Africa to the West Indies.

Due to my assumption, I didn’t know what I was reading at first. I noted some continuity errors, or what I thought were such, wondering if they were translation choices. But when I got to the middle section with Tituba’s meeting Hester in jail, I was astounded and had to reevaluate all that came before. Hester does not end up with the same fate as that in her originator’s story and she speaks as a white feminist of today; but, undoubtedly, she is Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Hester. Confused as I was at first, this meeting between the two women was my favorite part of the book. (Traditional as my reading can be, I guess I'm a postmodernist at heart.)

The treatment of the Jewish people in Puritanical Massachusetts becomes a theme; and around this point of the story, the language of the book changed, becoming much smoother and all-knowing. I was having issues with the latter (again wondering if some of it was a translation choice); but, due to what happens after Tituba returns to Barbados, that too ends up making sense.

The afterword, written by Ann Armstrong Scarboro, which also includes her interview with Condé, helped me feel better about my confusions. Armstrong Scarboro admits that on her first reading she completely missed the parody of the last section. I certainly did, and I know I would benefit from a reread as well.

For the same stated purpose of this novel, I was reminded of another short novel I recently read, Ana Historic by Daphne Marlatt. Both are written by women who wanted to add to and expand the story of a woman whose fuller story was left out of the historical record by the men in charge.

In the interview Condé says she wanted the title of the work to be merely I, Tituba but the publisher said it was too “laconic”. I can’t help but think the subtitle was added for a sensational effect, as Condé’s Tituba is a healer, not a witch (in the sense it's defined here), and she’s certainly not ‘of’ Salem.
Profile Image for Shawnta.
22 reviews21 followers
December 20, 2013
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 heart then wring your eyes into a pool of salt. I was captured most when Tituba was in her homeland and not in the American soil. I don't want to supply any spoilers, but will say that I could not put it down - I read it straight through in three days, then gripped the book once it was completed, and was challenged then, to write my own story, and consider who else's stories needed to be written, or reconsidered.

What art! What imagination! What accuracy!
I am still overcome and am tempted to write a paper and respond to the call if for not other reason, than to thank the conference coordinators for erupting in me this seed that has already sprouted a surprising wave of possibility.

And lastly, I must say, I was impressed by the admitted relationship with the character Hester, which made this read all the more delicious; the ancestral connection, or moreso, kinship and communion of ancerstors, the hidden languages, the songs, the poetry in Condé's writing, so many attributes. The only thing I could wish for is that I had it erased from my memory, so that I may read it again.
Profile Image for Paul Fulcher.
Author 2 books1,306 followers
December 26, 2018
There would never, ever be a careful, sensitive biography recreating my life and its suffering.

The Guadeloupean author Maryse Condé was the first - and probably the last given its one off purpose - winner of The New Academy Prize in Literature - create after the problems that prevented the Nobel Prize being awarded this year. See https://www.dennyaakademien.com/

The citation read:
Maryse Condé is a grand storyteller. Her authorship belongs to world literature. In her work, she describes the ravages of colonialism and the postcolonial chaos in a language which is both precise and overwhelming. The magic, the dream and the terror is, as also love, constantly present. Fiction and reality overlap each other and people live as much in an imagined world with long and complicated traditions, as the ongoing present. Respectfully and with humour, she narrates the postcolonial insanity, disruption and abuse, but also human solidarity and warmth The dead live in her stories closely to the living in a multitudinous world where gender, race and class are constantly turned over in new constellations.
Her 1986 novel Moi, Tituba, sorcière... noire de Salem was translated into English in 1992 as I, Tituba, Black Witch of Salem by Richard Philcox, her husband and well as her long-term translator.

It tells the first person story of Tituba, the alleged witch at the centre of the Salem witch trials, but one pushed to the periphery in historical accounts of the incidents. In the historical record both her origins but even her fate after the trials are at best vague, her identity usually confined, as she complains in the novel, to a footnote: a slave originating from the west indies and probably practising 'hoodoo'.

Like I suspect many English language readers, my literary recognition of Tituba stems from the Arthur Miller play The Crucible, one Condé dismisses in an interview included in the book, noting that while she had seen the play in the past, during her research for this novel she didn't bother revisiting it: I knew that Miller as a white male writer would not pay attention to a black woman.

She is rather less dismissive of the other major fictional account, Ann Perry's Tituba of Salem Village, which she read halfway through writing her novel, although she admits to being a bit surprised and disappointed because Ann Perry turned the story into a book for adolescents ... a story of hope and dynamism. This was not the type of story that I wanted to tell ...I am not interested in giving role models to young people.

Condé's novel gives Tituba back her past and her future, but also her agency. It opens, brutally:

Abena, my mother, was raped by an English sailor on the deck of Christ the King one day in the year 16** while the ship was sailing for Barbados. I was born from this act of aggression. From this act of hatred and contempt.

Condé's account is also very intentionally not a historical novel, but the opposite. Other than one brief two page chapter taken verbatim from the transcript of Tituba's historical trial testimony, Condé says she was not interested at all in what her real life could have been.

Indeed this is a highly playful novel - in prison Tituba encounters the fictional character Hester Prynne from Hawthorne's The Scarlet Letter, and the two have a deliberately rather anachronistic discussion of feminism.

Condé's Tituba is also one blessed with special, one could say from a Anglo-Saxon perspective, supernatural, powers, but ones she uses for good not evil. When someone - actually her soon-to-be-lover (Condé's Tituba is also a highly sexualised character) first mentions as a warning, while they are still in Barbados, that some may see her as a witch, she thinks:

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 (if that's what this person whp has this gift is called) be cherished and revered rather than feared?

And imbuing her with these powers - including her return to Barbados where she is urged to use them to lead a slave rebellion - Condé 's narration takes on a deliberately mock-epic tome. As she noted to her interviewer in the book: Do not take Tituba too seriously, please … the element of parody is very important if you wish to fully comprehend Tituba.

And just as Miller (although one suspects she would not welcome the comparison) cleverly used The Crucible to make points about McCarthy America, Condé notes that: writing Tituba was an opportunity to express my feelings about present-day America. I wanted to imply that in terms of narrow-mindedness, hypocrisy, and racism, little has changes since the days of the Puritans.

A very readable novel but one with surprising depth.
Profile Image for Juanjo Aranda.
116 reviews46 followers
April 11, 2022
Es probable que todos hayáis oído hablar de los famosos juicios de Salem. Pues hoy, los vamos a vivir desde dentro, desde la piel de Tituba, una esclava negra a la que todos consideraban bruja.

Maryse Condé nos cuenta de una forma muy sencilla la desgarradora vida de esta mujer, condenada desde su nacimiento por su condición. Sentiremos su angustia y su impotencia por la crueldad de la sociedad hacia ella, cuando lo único que pretendía con sus conocimientos de medicina natural y rituales sanadores era ayudar a la gente.

En nuestra librería pasa a ser una de las tres mejores lecturas del mes de marzo, porque a pesar de la crudeza de la historia, Condé consigue enamorarnos dotando al relato de una belleza y una sencillez extraordinaria.

Y aunque después de leerlo yo no me atrevo ni a ofrecer una manzanilla a alguien con una indigestión, que esto de las hogueras lo llevo muy mal ya que soy de piel más bien seca, sí que me atrevo recomendarlo muchísimo. Os encantará:

Profile Image for Pedro Pacifico Book.ster.
313 reviews3,186 followers
April 20, 2020
Como é bom descobrir uma autora e uma obra tão incríveis! Esse foi um livro que conheci no final de 2019 e, desde que recomendei aqui no #desafiobookster2020, só recebi feedbacks positivos! Autora caribenha, nascida em 1937, Maryse Condé foi vencedora de diversos prêmios literários, tendo em 2018 recebido o New Academy Prize (Prêmio Nobel Alternativo).

A obra pode ser enquadrada na categoria de ficção histórica, em que a autora parte de um fato histórico verídico - a morte de Tituba, uma mulher negra e escravizada, condenada por bruxaria pelos tribunais de Salém - e utiliza a ficção para preencher as lacunas dos registros históricos.

A vida de Tituba é marcada por rejeição, perdas e sofrimento. O início do livro já nos antecipa o destino triste traçado para a personagem: "Abena, minha mãe, foi violentada por um marinheiro inglês no convés do Christ the King, num dia de 16**, quando o navio zarpava para Barbados. Dessa agressão nasci. Desse ato de agressão e desprezo.”

Escravizada ainda na infância, Tituba perde a sua mãe em um triste ato de violência e abuso. A partir disso, descobre e aprende com Man Yayá o poder das plantas e do “invisível” para fazer o bem ao próximo. E é justamente essa sua cultura, essa sua outra forma de enxergar a morte e a ciência, que são utilizados pelo grupos puritanos do século XVII para enquadrá-la como bruxa. Então ser bruxa é ser alguém que se pensa diferente e se coloca em risco para poder ajudar o outro?

E apesar do sofrimento desde o primeiro momento de sua vida, encontramos em Tituba uma mulher guerreira e que não se cala ante às discriminações que enfrenta ao longo da sua vida. Isso, na minha opinião, deixa o livro menos angustiante - embora não menos doloroso. Leitura incrível, que nos faz refletir e aprender sobre um período histórico a partir da perspectiva de uma personagem por muito tempo esquecida.

Leia mais resenhas em https://www.instagram.com/book.ster/
Profile Image for Mohamed Khaled Sharif.
819 reviews922 followers
November 30, 2021

"إن الشراسة موهبة تُمنح للإنسان بالولادة. إنها لا تُكتسب. من لم يأت منا إلى العالم مُسلحاً بالمخالب والأنياب، سيخسر كُل معركة يخوضها."

رواية "أنا تيتوبا" هي رواية عن العُنصرية تجاه سُمر البشرة، وتجاه النساء، وتجاه اليهود، وتجاه أي من ولد مُختلفاً لا ذنب له في لون بشرته أو نوعه.. وبالطبع في وقت أحداث الرواية كانت تلك العناصر موجودة وبكثرة، تكاد تشم رائحتها في كل شبر من العالم.

تيتوبا، فتاة سمراء اللون، يُقال أنها ولدت لأم ساحرة، وكذلك الجدة، وجاء الدور على الفتاة لتُكمل على نفس المنوال.. لكن هل فعلاً كانت "تيتوبا" ساحرة؟ رُبما! ولكن هل أستحقت كُل ما عانته؟ بكل تأكيد لا.. لا أحد يستحق أن يمر بما مرت به "تيتوبا". كانت تستحق حياة أفضل.

"الموتى لا يموتون إلا متى ماتوا في قلوبنا. يظلون على قيد الحياة إذا ما ظللنا على حبهم، إذا ما كرمنا ذكراهم، إذا ما وضعنا على قبورهم ما كانوا يؤثرونه في حياتهم من طعام؛ وإذا ما انكفأنا على ذواتنا، على فترات مُنتظمة، كي نتصل بذكراهم. إنهم هُنا، حولنا، في كُل مكان، متعطشون للاهتمام، مُتعطشون للحُب. وتكفي كلمات لكي نجمعهم حولنا، فيلصقوا أجسادهم بأجسادنا، مُتلهفين على أن يٌقدموا لنا العون."

رُبما تكون أحداث الرواية عادية، ولكن الميزة الأكبر في الرواية هي تطويع الترجمة بهذه السلاسة، بمُجرد قراءتك لأول حروف الرواية ستعرف أن الإنتاج الأدبي هُنا أهم ما يُميزه الجهد المبذول في ترجمته، النص الأصلي من الواضح أنه كان مليء بالكلمات والجمل الصعبة، ولكن ترجمة "محمد آيت حنا" جاءت سلسة وجميلة، فكت كُل العُقد وأوصلت الجمل بنفس جمال السرد الأصلي.

بالعدوة إلى "تيتوبا"، وكُل تلك العلاقات التي دخلت فيها، وكُل تلك الكسور التي مرت بها روحها، كُل ذلك الذل والظلم، وكُل ذلك التعلق بالرجال من أجل حمايتهم، في أحد مواقف الرواية، كانت "تيتوبا" في علاقة مع شخصاً ما، لا تُحبه غالباً، وأهدافها من العلاقة جلية، ولكن عند لحظة الفراق الحتمية، كانت تبكي دماً لأنه سيُفارقها.. لماذا؟
لأنها تخاف من الحياة.. تلك الحياة التي لا يُمكن لأمرأة سمراء ذات أصول أفريقية أن تعيش فيها!
تلك الحياة ستمضغها ومضغاً ولن ترحمها!

يُنصح بها.

Profile Image for Shuhan Rizwan.
Author 4 books845 followers
April 13, 2022
বিস্তারিত লিখবো পরে, হয়তো নিজের ওয়েবসাইটে, আপাতত তাৎক্ষণিক ভাবনাটা ভাগ করে যায় গুডরিডসে।

সালেম, ম্যাসাচুসেটস-এর ১৬৯২ সালের ইতিহাস কুখ্যাত ডাইনি-নিধন পর্ব নিয়ে কয়েকদিনের ব্যবধানে দুটো বই পড়া হলো। প্রথমটা ছিলো আর্থার মিলারের দ্যা ক্রুসিবল, দ্বিতীয়টি মেরিস কন্ডের এই ‘আই, টিটুবা...’। এবং খেয়াল করার মতো, আমেরিকান নাট্যকার মিলার বা ক্যারিবিয়ানের মেরিস কন্ডে, প্রত্যেকেই ঐতিহাসিক ঘটনাটিকে ব্যাখ্যা করেছেন নিজ মাটির, নিজ ইতিহাসের ওপর ভিত্তি করে। অন্যভাবে বললে, ওই নাটকটি ক��বল একজন মার্ক���নি, এই উপন্যাসটি কেবল একজন ক্যারিবিয়ানই লিখতে পারেন।

বিগত কয়েকবছর ধরে ভিনদেশি পুরাণ কি গল্পকথার ওপর ভর করে মৌলিক রচনার একরকমের স্রোত দেখছি চারপাশে। লোকজ আচার বা মহাভারতের মতো আমাদের স্থানীয় পুরাণও যে ব্যবহার হচ্ছে না, তা বললে অন্যায়ই হবে, তবে সংখ্যায় তারা কম। গ্রিক আর নর্স মিথোলজির গল্পটাও যদি আমরাই বলে বেড়াই, হতাশ লাগে এই ভেবে যে, রংপুরের নুরুলদীন বা দক্ষিণ বাংলার শমসের গাজীর গল্প তবে বুনবে কারা?

... মেরিস কন্ডের অন্য লেখার প্রতি তীব্র আগ্রহ বোধ করছি, সাথে ঈর্ষাও, একটা মুহুর্তের জন্যেও নিজের ক্যারিবিয়ান সত্ত্বা তিনি ভুলতে দেননি।
Profile Image for Emily M.
293 reviews
September 28, 2020
A flawed, if interesting, historical retelling.

Little is known about Tituba Indian, the black slave accused of witchcraft in Salem. Historically, it’s unclear even if she was from the Caribbean or was an indigenous American. She “confessed” to her crimes and so was spared the noose, but disappeared from history.

Maryse Condé here reimagines her life from childhood to death in a narrative that includes witchcraft, voodoo, musings on racism and sexism, and metafictional crossovers. That description, unfortunately, makes the book sound much more interesting than I personally found it to be.

We open with the usual atrocities of slavery: Tituba is conceived when her mother is raped aboard a slave ship; her mother is later hung for attacking a plantation owner. Tituba eventually comes into the possession of Samuel Parris, and embarks for America, where she will play her historical role in the Salem witch trials.

The book is described in its blurbs and its supplementary material as “postmodern” and as having “mordant wit.” In fact, it’s quite uneven. The first half is very much a traditional slave narrative with touches of magical realism. The second half is occasionally postmodern (Tituba fumes prophetically that within a century there will be some retribution for the falsely accused men and women but that “no one will write a sensitive biography of Tituba;” in prison she meets and becomes friends with Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Hester Prynne, whose fate in this telling is dramatically different to what befalls her in The Scarlet Letter). The mordant wit, unfortunately, is either absent or lost in translation.

The afterword contains an interview with Condé in which she explains her project in some depth: we are not to take Tituba seriously. She is meant to be epic, but also mock-epic. The book is a parody of what it purports to be. This is an intriguing thought, but not at all clear from the text. Tonally, the book is very strange, and this strangeness might have been the humour going over my head. The editor, writer of the afterword, admits it went over her head too until she interviewed Condé, who says "I hesitated between irony and the desire to be serious."

I sympathize with Condé’s intent here, which is that, to a black Caribbean, history is never for history’s sake; you must find history to discover yourself and what was taken from you. The book didn’t quite work for me (the writing style curiously flat and rather didactic, but I appreciate it was written in the 1980s when postcolonial studies were at a different place than they are now).

All in all, I would probably recommend reading the afterword, and particularly the interview with Condé, over the book itself. At the same time, this would make for good fodder for a course about American historical fiction, witchcraft, or what have you. There are depths and strangenesses in it that make for proper conversation. It’s an interesting book; I’m not convinced it’s a good one.
208 reviews8 followers
September 12, 2011
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 menial information we may have from the Crucible and the historical texts which inspired both that and "I, Tituba." If the real Tituba could come back and read this, she may well be just as offended by the presumptions of this text as she would be of the mere footnote she registers in historical text.

There's also the fact that Tituba -is- a witch. The text makes quite a bit of ado about the nature of the word... she is not a witch in the negative sense that we read the word most often, but she still conjures and brews and has magic at her fingertips. This magic is real, in terms of the book. She can cure people with concoctions and charms, influence fate with ritual sacrifice, and even allow a man to speak with his dead family. The horror of the witch trials was how the fervor grew like a flame, and ended with so many innocent women imprisoned or slain for literally doing nothing. By framing Tituba as a literal sorceress of her own sort, it is harder to be sympathetic. The reader knows she is a "good witch," but even without the religious overtones to Puritan society, how many modern people would not still fear someone who, if magic existed, knew how to harness that energy? We can look at the sexist and racist undertones of these decisions, but that becomes little more than a mask when the protagonist is no longer falsely accused, especially when Tituba herself invokes venom against her tormentors with the same blindness they use to judge her as a black woman. We understand, yet something still rings false.

No less difficult is that Tituba, in some way, brings this upon herself. She lives free in Barbados, but in pursuing a man, one known for his flightiness and trickery, she finds herself enslaved as the wife of a slave. There was fair warning from the magic world. She ignores it. Tituba, unconstrained by the mores of an incredibly conservative white population, is very sexual, but what keeps her ensnared time and time again through the novel is not this freedom of sexual expression, but her inability to keep it separate from love. From her first enslavement with Joe Indian to the final liaison leading to her death, it is not men who trap her, but herself who allows herself to wander into the snares. Further, it is she who practices her magic in a world that is already suspicious. It is she who lets the children know of her powers. We see what could be a strong female character continually undone not only by a world that is ideologically oppressive to what she is from the start, but by her own naivete in how she forges her way in that world.

By the time Hester Prynne makes her way into the narrative, I was asking myself, who is still reading this? This is the point where we leave the already tenuous historic elements behind for pure ideology. Hester exists as a device, another unfairly accused woman kept down by the patriarchy. But Hester is so quintessentially fiction as a character (not to say she could not be real, but that she isn't), and her existence in this text so immaterial to who that character is, she becomes an elephant that everyone but Conde seems to notice in the room. She is a fictional take on a fictional character, which blows open the conceit of this being a more real interpretation of Tituba than the very brief sketches left over from the witch trials. Hester makes the suspension of disbelief we willingly engage in early on, accepting the spiritual world, feel all for naught. It becomes artifice for a fully different agenda, and is heavy handed in that delivery. In the long run, we're left with a story that becomes too self conscious of a subtext to do either the stated purpose of the text or the reader thereof much good.
Profile Image for Barbara.
1,691 reviews26 followers
November 7, 2020
This novel by Marysé Conde, originally from the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe, was published in 1986 and translated from French to English in 1992. It was awarded France’s Grand Prix Littéraire de la Femme in 1986. It recounts the story of Tituba, whose history has been excluded from most accounts of the Salem Witch Trials. Conde did extensive research to create this novel told in the voice of Tituba.

Tituba was the product of the rape her16-year-old mother experienced on a British ship sailing for Barbados. Her Ashanti mother had been kidnapped, and sold into slavery. Tituba grows up on Barbados. She learns the ways of “hoodoo” from elders, and ghosts of her ancestors. She is a survivor, and bravely leads a fugitive life until she is recaptured, eventually ending up in Salem.

Condé creates a chilling portrait of Puritan society. We learn about it through Tituba’s eyes, for whom this is all new and strange. The repression of all voices, except those of men, is broken when some children, begin to break out with accusations of witchcraft against certain women in Salem. Many of the accused women were outsiders because they were poor, or unmarried, or wealthy and unmarried. We know that a number of these women were hung, and that after the hysteria, the trials suddenly ended.

This is historical fiction at its best. With historically accurate details, the author develops a compelling portrait of an extraordinary woman.
Profile Image for Janelle.
1,217 reviews167 followers
September 26, 2020
This novel imagines the life of Tituba, one of the first 3 women arrested in the Salem witch trials. She was a slave in the household of the Reverend Parris and little is known of her life before or after the trials. This is a fascinating book that I found hard to stop reading. The treatment of slaves, the ridiculous beliefs of the puritans, racism and sexism, and how history has forgotten this black woman as unimportant, are all covered. It’s told from Titubas point of view. Nineteen women were sentenced to hang and one man condemned to a hideous punishment, “pressed to death” (stones placed on his chest till he’s crushed).
“...it made me wonder about the kind of people who were convicting us. Where was Satan? Wasn’t he hiding in the folds of the judges coats? Wasn’t he speaking in the voices of these magistrates and men of religion?”
A well written, thought provoking historical novel.
Profile Image for Iris Lu 🌙.
270 reviews32 followers
November 10, 2022
Tituba fue una mujer esclava, de las primeras tres acusadas de brujería en los juicios de Salem entre los años 1692-1693, fue comprada por un ministro y traída desde Barbadoes a la villa de Salem Massachusetts; antes de este libro ignoraba la gran mayoría de los datos históricos que Maryse Condé nos relata.

La autora le da voz a Tituba, una voz poética y bondadosa que nos lleva desde su nacimiento hasta su muerte, su juventud en su tierra Barbadoes, su primer amor por quien dejó su libertad, sus estragos al venir a America a sufrir racismo y condena por ser una mujer sanadora, por ser una bruja.

Un texto feminista que remarca los prejuicios hacia la mujer sanadora, curandera y espiritual; Tituba es un personaje entrañable y de reclamación femenina.

Este es un libro extraordinario y fascinante sobre la historia de Salem y el rol de sus mujeres.

Les dejó witchy quotes ⬇️⬇️

🖤¡No es bruja quien quiere, sino quien puede!

🖤¿Qué va a ser de este mundo si las mujeres empezáis a tener miedo? ¡Se vendría todo abajo! ¡Se derrumbaría sobre nosotros la cúpula del firmamento, las estrellas se harían pedazos y se mezclarían con el polvo de los caminos!

🖤 Da igual que sean blancos o negros, ¡la vida se porta demasiado bien con los hombres.

🖤 ¡Que ingenua al ignorar que hacer el bien a malas personas equivale en ocasiones a hacerles el mal!
Profile Image for Lectoralila.
223 reviews286 followers
April 1, 2020
Este libro será por el resto de mi vida un libro que mencionaré siempre que pueda, un libro brillante, un libro que llevaré siempre conmigo. ¡Qué placer haber descubierto a Maryse Condé! ¡Qué pérdida de tiempo no haberlo hecho antes!
Para hablar de Tituba creo que lo mejor es empezar por el final del libro. «Nota histórica: Hacia 1693, Tituba, nuestra heroína, fue vendida por el precio de su “pensión” en la cárcel, de sus cadenas y de sus grilletes. ¿A quién? El racismo, consciente o inconsciente, de los historiadores es de tal envergadura que ninguno lo recuerda.» Ya sabíamos que hay muchísimo machismo entre los historiadores, no nos puede extrañar también que haya racismo. Al final son ellos los que nos cuentan qué ha pasado en nuestra propia historia. Sería ridículo no darse cuenta de lo sesgada que es la información que nos llega. De ahí la importancia de investigar, contrastar y dudar para crear nuestra propia conciencia antirracista o feminista.
Volviendo a la novela, os cuento que hay partes reales y otras que ha compuesto, de una forma brillante, Condé para entregarnos a una Tituba completa. Este libro narra su historia, desde que nace en Barbuda en una plantación, hasta su final. Muy joven se inicia en el arte de las plantas convirtiéndose en una excelente curandera o, a ojos de los demás, en una bruja. Conocerá el amor y este le llevará a ser comprada y enviada a América. Así es como nosotras, a través de sus ojos, emprendemos este viaje en la esclavitud. Viendo de cerca las injusticias que ella vivió, sintió y recibió por parte de los blancos. «-El momento de nuestra liberación no ha llegado todavía. Le interrogué con voz ronca: -¿Cuándo, cuándo llegará? ¡Cuánta sangre ha de ser derramada y por qué? (…) -Será necesario que la sangre invada nuestra memoria. Que nuestros recuerdos floten en su superficie como nenúfares. Insistí: -Dímelo claramente, ¿cuánto tiempo falta? Man Yaya sacudió la cabeza. -La desgracia del negro no tiene fin.»
Además, el personaje de Tituba está altamente empoderado, dentro de sus posibilidades. [Sigo en comentarios]

Es consciente desde el primer momento de lo que significa ser mujer en una sociedad patriarcal. Y de que además de estar sometida por todas las y los blancos, también lo estará por algunos hombres negros. Dirá en reperidas ocasiones: «Blancos o negros, la vida trata demasiado bien a los hombres.» Tituba será pues juzgada en Salem por brujería, pero ahí no acabará su historia. Su historia, en realidad, no termina nunca.
Profile Image for Amélie.
Author 5 books323 followers
October 18, 2020
Adoré ce livre. C'est un roman d'aventure dans lequel je suis tombée tête première, happée par tous les creux de vague, jamais pu toucher le fond que du bout des orteils. Maryse Condé s'y révèle facétieuse & puissante, tendre d'une tendresse féroce qui souffle fort sur les clichés dans lesquels tout conspire à enfermer Tituba. Mais fille d'esclave, guérisseuse, fine entreteneuse des liens qui nous rattachent au monde des esprits, grande amoureuse, ballotée de douleur en douleur, sorcière si c'est comme ça qu'on la découvre, Tituba reste le coeur grand ouvert, jamais cynique. J'ai aimé qu'elle traverse le monde avec une perméabilité bouleversante. J'ai aimé que le roman mette si franchement en lumière le gouffre qui sépare la perception que les Blancs ont de Tituba de celle qu'elle a d'elle-même. Ma vie, fleuve qui ne peut être entièrement détourné. (p. 30) Ce n'est pas parce que le chemin est étroit qu'on doit s'y traîner à genoux.
Profile Image for Katherine.
392 reviews
October 4, 2022
"Al haber hecho tanto daño a sus semejantes, a unos por tener la piel negra y a otros por tenerla roja, ¿Es posible que esa sea la razón por la que los blancos andan tan obsesionados con el pecado?"

En este libro seguimos los pasos de Tituba, una mujer que fue enjuiciada en Salem, 1692.

No se sabe mucho la vida de ella, a pesar de ser muy nombrada en la actualidad, y lo que hace la autora es ir relatandonos, entrelazando ciertos acontecimientos reales, nombres, locaciones, etc., lo que pudo haber pasado con Tituba y como fue su vida.

El libro comienza relatándonos que su madre fue violada y ella nació de ese brutal acto. Con el tiempo y por ciertos acontecimientos su aprendizaje quedó a manos de Man Yaya, quién le enseño todo lo que sabía. Vivió sola hasta que se enamoró de un esclavo y se fue a vivir con él, momento en el que conoció una creencia distinta, llena de odio y miedo, lo que fue desencadenando una serie de eventos la llevaron por un camino de sufrimiento e injusticias.

El libro está narrado en primera persona, y desde el inicio atrapa por los datos de la vida real que va intercalando, pero sobre todo por la voz y vida que le otorga la autora a nuestra protagonista. Una voz poderosa, pero una vida dolorosa, solitaria e injusta y no solo desde que es enjuiciada sino desde su nacimiento, por ser hija, alumna, mujer, conocedora, sanadora, diferente.

Leer este libro nuevamente me ha encantado, muestra tanto de la sociedad de aquel entonces, y, en parte, también de la actual, que deja pensando. Una prosa con grandes frases y miradas.
Profile Image for Christine.
6,673 reviews490 followers
August 24, 2016
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 her to become a “witch” but to also travel to Boston and then Salem.
It isn’t just a clash of cultures, the impact of racism, and the attacks on gender; it is a book about self and the discovery of female.
The inclusion of a one of American literature’s most famous heroines is a slightly false note, simply because of the term feminism, but a reasonable one considering the source.
The slight misstep, if one sees it that way, is slight because Tituba’s voice is so strong, so demanding, so passionate that it really doesn’t matter. While Conde is drawing on Miller’s play more than other historical sources (outside of the description of slavery), she many ways transcends it. Miller’s play is about a man hounded by himself, society but ultimately because he discards a mistress. Conde’s story is about a woman hounded because of her skin tone.

A quick note – the edition I read includes a good foreword by Angela Y. Davis, and an afterword. The afterword I found to be weak and somewhat insulting because it feels it must explain the book to the reader. Yet, it includes an interview with Conde and a wonderfully display of honesty from the interviewer.

Crossposted at Booklikes.
Profile Image for Kiki.
200 reviews154 followers
February 24, 2020
Updated: February 24, 2020.
4. 5 stars

I, Tituba is, amongst other things, a parody of the heroic journey readers may be familiar with from Greek/Roman myths. Tituba is aware of how White historians erased her from history and Condé is the conduit through which she can finally tell her tale.

On a second read one thing that stands out to me is how Condé shapes the book to exist in that in-between space between "authentic" slave narrative in which she gives the illusion the reader is learning the story directly from the source, and a determined irony in which she has the text undercut Tituba's own ideas of her lack of fame and importance of the written word.

Tituba herself is such a relatable mess, with her grand schemes of revenge and rebellion foiled by equally fundamental yet (what some would consider) lesser desires. But are they? Tituba loves to love and be loved, with a yearning for community and home that, perhaps, freedom could not provide as things were in 17th century Barbados and Massachusetts.

Hester Prynne's appearance as White feminism's rep and references to the need for society to have welfare systems are some of the elements that make this novel fresher than new readers may expect.

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January 10, 2020

"You're too fond of love, Tituba!"

And I wondered whether this was not a blemish in me, a fault that I should have tried to cure myself of.

Too in my feels about Tituba to give this a star rating but hot damn, Condé is a Caribbean giant. Bow down. No review until I work out my response for an article. No star rating because I feel like subjecting this book to a star rating would be an insult lol.
Profile Image for Alejandro (IG: alejobooks).
104 reviews162 followers
February 24, 2022
El libro se basa en el personaje histórico de Tituba, una esclava negra del siglo XVII que fue acusada de brujería. Condé construye sobre estos cimientos una ficción histórica muy bien contada y narrada de una forma bonita y cercana. El inicio es muy potente y en todo momento se nota la pasión de la autora por lo que nos está relatando.

Aunque estemos ante una historia ficcionada es una novela sumamente interesante desde el punto de vista histórico para saber más sobre los famosos juicios de Salem de 1692 y entender mejor las injusticias que se vivieron. El trabajo de documentación es excelente e incluso nos topamos con algunas transcripciones de testimonios reales.

En mi opinión la novela se desinfla ligeramente en la segunda mitad. Algunos personajes secundarios están un poco desdibujados y a ratos se me ha hecho repetitiva. Es un libro ambicioso que abarca muchos temas: identidad, racismo, brujería, feminismo, sexualidad… y esto puede jugar en su contra.

Sea como fuere, el relato de Tituba es más que recomendable si os interesa conocer esta etapa de la historia con un texto que mezcla extraordinariamente realidad y ficción para recordarnos que los verdaderos demonios tienen su origen en la maldad humana.
Profile Image for الزهراء الصلاحي.
1,441 reviews456 followers
March 10, 2022
التجارب الأولى البديعة!
تجربة تجعلني تلقائي بمجرد إنهائي لها أبدأ في العمل الآخر للكاتبة!

رواية ساحرة!
بالرغم من أنها تتحدث عن العبودية والذل والإهانة التي كان الزنوج يعيشون فيها، وقتل الساحرات أو من يشكون بأنها ساحرة، إلا أن الرواية مع ذلك رائعة ومكتملة الجوانب بالنسبة لي!

تجربة ممتعة، وأنصح بها بشدة.

١٠ مارس ٢٠٢٢
Profile Image for Márcio.
538 reviews1 follower
April 21, 2021

Maryse Condé's book is a poetic version of the life of Tituba, sometimes considered to be a South American native, Carib, other times a black woman from Barbados, but the fact is that little is known about her life before her enslavement by the puritan minister Samuel Parris who brought her to the village of Salem, Massachusetts, as after her release from prison. And I mean poetic because this is a trace of the ancestry of black people all over the Americas: they have few to no knowledge of it, this was something taken from them and from their descendants (this reader included, I also have African ancestry).

In Condé's telling of Tituba life, we are taken to a short time before her birth. We learn about her mother short life, and of the man who protected them both and named the little baby. Both die when she is still a young child and as a maroon, she is brought up by a Nago (Yoruba) woman, Mama Yaya, a spiritual herbalist/healer, who taught little Tituba her art. After Mama's death, Tituba takes on her tracks, till she meets the slave called John Indian whom she marries, and her downfall starts, both taken to Massachusetts together with the clergyman Samuel Parris.

In the village of Salem her real ordeal starts with accusations of witchcraft. And though she is sure she is no witch, she confesses it in order to save her life. Nevertheless, the fake accusations made by Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams, which were also used by other residents of the village to accuse their disaffected neighbors, resulted in 19 persons who were hanged and one being pressed to death. After Tituba's release from prison, bought by a Dutch Jew of Portuguese origin, she becomes his lover, and after a tragic situation, he sets her free to return to her Barbados.

In her real life, Tituba's fortune, unfortunately, had to happen in what was a very hypocritical trial. Many other authors described it, and I remember vividly what Arthur Miller's play, The Crucible, caused me, a sense of disgust and rage as to what extent people use such a situation for their own sake, regardless of the misfortune and death of others. "Witch hunt" can be used, then, in any situation where power is used to repress the population, like those in totalitarian governments.

It is also a book that deals with the situation of women in society, and most that of black women, and stands not only as a critique of the society of that time but also as of the contemporary racism and sexism in our societies. But also as of bias against religious practices like the ones held by spiritual herbalists and healers, known all along with the Americas, Africa, and in the Russian steppes, as far as I know. Religions like Candomblé (resulting from the African-Brazilian syncretism between the traditional religions of West Africa and the Roman Catholic Church, where the orixás and the Catholic saints are venerated as one and the other) and Umbanda face real threatens all over Brazil, mostly after the rising of neo-Pentecostal churches in the country, regardless of the constitutional protection these traditional religions also receive.
Profile Image for Jimmy.
512 reviews738 followers
June 25, 2016
If you don't know Maryse Condé, read her now. She wrote this book in 1986 about Tituba, a black slave from Barbados. We know very little about Tituba's actual life from the history books. Only what she said leading up to and pertaining to the Salem Witch trials.

Other than that, she may have not existed. It reminds me of the one mention in history books of the Moroccan slave who survived the Spanish expedition in Florida in The Moor's Account. So much is covered over, a hand moves over the eyes, wipes away the stain, or paints on new eyes. Lives forgotten, hidden, never lived. Maryse Condé brings Tituba back to life, much as Tituba does when she summons the spirits of her Mama Yaya and Abena from the dead for a conversation.

Condé's conversation with Tituba allows her to recreate an entire life and time, not only the Salem episode. And she has fun with it. Turns out Tituba really was a witch, a black witch, but the word witch changes hands a million times. To Tituba it's simply a way of being in touch with the elements around her, to listen to the earth and give back a little, as in a conversation. Spirits come and go and she talks with them, consults them, has sex with them. Tituba struggles in her new environments, sold once, twice, three times. And though she is known as the black witch from Salem, that is but one small chapter of her life. She struggles to understand the white man, this creature so afraid of nature as if he does not come from it. He innately pulls back from the sight of a black cat. How long did he take to forget and learn to live in this world? But to her the danger is more real, it is hidden in the hearts of white men and women and children. It is very much of this world and not the spirit world. Of course it is. The evil that will say anything to put an enemy's family on the line, while appearing "civil".

Such a strange book. It's historical fan-fiction, re-imagined and unapologetic about its idiosyncrasies. At one point she meets Hester--probably Prynne given her adulterous charge and becomes her lover. At another point she uses anachronistic terms like "feminism" and "nth degree". The language is fiery, poetic, and matter of fact, depending. At one point she wonders if the history books will erase her, which sounded more like Condé speaking than Tituba. The voices meld as in any recollection of a conversation, don't worry it's just a communion of spirits.
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