Chapo Ba…in which we give a brief tribute to someone who has had a significant impact on Haitian culture.
Today’s Chapo Ba goes out to Justin Lhérisson.
Lherisson’s name will always go down in Haitian history for writing “La Dessalinelienne”, which is the Haitian National Anthem.
In recent years, many have recognized him for being among one of the very first writers to write in Creole. His novel La famille des Pitite-Caille: les fortunes de chez nous, published in 1904 had huge portions in Creole, although it was written mostly in French.
In his book A History of Literature in the Caribbean: Hispanic and Francophone Regions, literary pundit Albert James Arnold
praised Lhérisson being the first Haitian novelist to create a literary work that tackled incest and sexual abuse. The literary work in question was his 1904 novel Zoune Chez sa Ninaine (Zoune at Her
Grandmother’s Godmother’s House-thanks reader!), also recognized for its sensitive treatment of Haitian peasant life.
A lawyer, Lhérisson was also a historian and a poet, writing three volumes of poetry Les Chants de l’Aurore and Passe-temps, both published in 1893, and Myrtha, published the previous year.
Among Lhérisson’s accomplishments was the founding of Le Soir, the Haitian version of People magazine of its day (in terms of popularity), with literary substance.
Born Alexis Michel Justin Lhérisson in Port-au-Prince in 1873, Lhérisson was 34 years old at his death.