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Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English [Paperback]

Benjamin Hebblethwaite
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

October 28, 2011
Vodou songs constitute the living memory of Haitian Vodou communities, and song texts are key elements to understanding Haitian culture. Vodou songs form a profound religious and cultural heritage that traverses the past and refreshes the present. Offering a one-of-a-kind research tool on Vodou and its cultural roots in Haiti and pre-Haitian regions, Vodou Songs in Haitian Creole and English provides a substantial selection of hard to find or unpublished sacred Vodou songs in a side-by-side bilingual format. Esteemed scholar Benjamin Hebblethwaite introduces the language, mythology, philosophy, origins, and culture of Vodou through several chapters of source songs plus separate analytical chapters. He guides readers through songs, chants, poems, magical formulae, invocations, prayers, historical texts, and interviews, as well as Haitian Creole grammar and original sacred literature. An in-depth dictionary of key Vodou terms and concepts is also provided. This corpus of songs and the research about them provide a crucial understanding of the meaning of Vodou religion, language, and culture.

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Editorial Reviews


"Hebblethwaite offers an exemplary entree into the textual universe of the songs of Haitian Vodou, one of the most important features of the religion. Compendiums of Haitian Vodou song texts in English and Haitian Creole are uncommon making this book all the more important... The book's strengths make it useful for students and specialists of Caribbean religions, linguistics, and history. It is clearly written and makes a contribution to Haitian studies by emphasizing the critical importance of Vodou song texts as literature."--Journal of West Indian Literature, April 2013

About the Author

Benjamin Hebblethwaite is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at the University of Florida. He is the coeditor (with Jacques Pierre) of Arthur Rimbaud's prose poem, Une saison en enfer / Yon sezon matchyavèl.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 396 pages
  • Publisher: Temple University Press (October 28, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1439906025
  • ISBN-13: 978-1439906026
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #276,465 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent! July 24, 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is truly a labor of love. It is aimed at academic and non-academic audiences alike.

In academic terms, the scholarship is impeccable, with extensive appendices on Vodou terms and on Haitian Creole grammar. In addition to books and articles on Haitian history and culture and Vodou proper, Hebblethwaite also includes references to similar works by Africanists (on the Kongo, Khoisan, Yoruba) and specialists in other Afro-Caribbean cultures ("Lucumi"). He has also engaged with studies about Indian religious thought, including Buddhism. Even though the latter two are not addressed directly, the richness of thought and analysis derived from such broad interests is palpable.

The bulk of the book consists of songs whose text is given in Creole and English. The author's stated aim is to provide speakers and learners of Haitian Creole with an anthology of a large number of texts, often stemming from difficult-to-access sources. Accordingly, this section can and should be used by non-academics in order to learn about Haitian culture and improve their knowledge of the language. It could be read not only by adults, but even by children and adolescents of Haitian origin. The format in this section is simple and accessible, with the scholarly apparatus being kept to a minimum.

My only criticism is that the font used for the songs could have been a bit larger. Of course, those decisions are largely made by publishers, not by the authors themselves. As a fellow academic from a very different field, I am looking forward to future works by Hebblethwaite.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lends itself to analysis of text. January 29, 2015
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The author relates the understanding of these lyrics to explication of texts, close reading, and other methods of truly understanding a text. It would be interesting to see what someone with no background in the music and religion of the African Diaspora would make of the book, i.e. approaching the lyrics cold.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book March 22, 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Was as detailed, allows for learning another laungage and culture. I would reconmmend it to to anyone interested. Buy this book.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars RIDICULE May 8, 2015
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