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Two Years in the French West Indies   By: (1850-1904)

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Two Years in the French West Indies by Lafcadio Hearn is a captivating and insightful account of the author's experiences living in the French West Indies during the late 19th century. Hearn's vivid descriptions and keen observations transport readers to the lush landscapes, vibrant cultures, and diverse communities of the Caribbean islands.

Hearn's writing style is both poetic and informative, painting a vivid picture of the natural beauty and cultural nuances of the region. He effortlessly weaves historical context, personal anecdotes, and social commentary into his narrative, providing readers with a comprehensive understanding of life in the French West Indies.

One of the book's highlights is Hearn's deep exploration of the various ethnicities present in the islands. He delves into the lives of the Afro-Caribbean population, the European settlers, the Chinese community, and others, shedding light on their customs, traditions, and struggles. Through Hearn's lens, readers gain a greater appreciation for the rich multicultural tapestry that makes up the French West Indies.

Furthermore, Hearn's detailed descriptions of the landscape and nature of the islands are truly captivating. He takes readers on a sensory journey, depicting the vibrant colors, fragrant scents, and melodic sounds that define the Caribbean. His exploration of the flora and fauna is particularly impressive, showcasing both his botanical knowledge and his ability to make readers feel as if they are right there, immersed in the tropical surroundings.

Additionally, Hearn's observations on the social and economic conditions of the French West Indies offer a valuable historical perspective. He addresses the issues of slavery, indentured labor, and the aftermath of emancipation, shedding light on the challenges faced by the local population and the lasting impact of these systems.

However, it is worth noting that some readers may find the book's occasional romanticizing of the islands or its author's own biases off-putting. Hearn's tendency to idealize certain aspects of the culture and people can be seen as a flaw in an otherwise insightful work. Nonetheless, these subjective elements do not detract from the overall value and richness of the book.

In summary, Two Years in the French West Indies is a captivating travelogue that offers readers a unique glimpse into the vibrant cultures, stunning landscapes, and complex history of the Caribbean islands. Hearn's engaging writing style, his deep understanding of the region, and his ability to blend personal experiences with broader historical context make this book a must-read for anyone interested in the French West Indies or the multicultural dynamics of the Caribbean.

First Page:

Transcribed by: Richard Farris []







" La façon d'être du pays est si agréable, la température si bonne, et l'on y vit dans une liberté si honnête, que je n'aye pas vu un seul homme, ny une seule femme, qui en soient revenues, en qui je n'aye remarqué une grande passion d'y retourner. " LE PÈRE DUTERTRE (1667)

À MON CHER AMI LEOPOLD ARNOUX NOTAIRE À SAINT PIERRE, MARTINIQUE Souvenir de nos promenades, de nos voyages, de nos causeries, des sympathies échangées, de tout le charme d'une amitié inaltérable et inoubliable, de tout ce qui parle à l'âme au doux Pay des Revenants.


During a trip to the Lesser Antilles in the summer of 1887, the writer of the following pages, landing at Martinique, fell under the influence of that singular spell which the island has always exercised upon strangers, and by which it has earned its poetic name, Le Pays des Revenants . Even as many another before him, he left its charmed shores only to know himself haunted by that irresistible regret, unlike any other, which is the enchantment of the land upon all who wander away from it. So he returned, intending to remain some months; but the bewitchment prevailed, and he remained two years... Continue reading book >>

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