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"Beaumont's chef-d'oeuvre was, and has remained, illuminating... It follows that to readers of the present work the book of 1835 will seem strangely and wonderfully familiar... Marie will be a book of echoes."--George Wilson Pierson, Tocqueville in America
Gustave de Beaumont's 1835 work, Marie, or Slavery in the United States is structured as a fascinating essay on race interwoven with a novel. It is the story of socially forbidden love between an idealistic young Frenchman and an apparently white American woman with African ancestry. The couple's idealism fades as they repeatedly face racial prejudice and violence, and are eventually forced to seek shelter among exiled Cherokee people. Notable as the first abolitionist novel to focus on racial prejudice rather than bondage as a social evil, Beaumont's work was also the first to link prejudice against Native Americans to prejudice against blacks. This translation, with a new introduction by Gerard Fergerson, provides modern readers with interesting insights into the inconsistencies and injustices of democratic Jacksonian society.
" Marie issued a warning message to both worlds, old and new, on the devastating character of mob law. In his characteristically sympathetic yet somber tones Beaumont deftly prophesied, more than a century ago, both the racial persecution and the potential tyranny of the majority which continue to haunt us."--Alvis L. Tinnin, from the 1958 introduction
"It is not only his tragically prophetic analysis of this problem that distinguishes Beaumont's book... It is his passionate sympathy with the victims of prejudice and of human, as distinct from legal, injustice. Like Tocqueville, Beaumont diagnoses, but he does not stop there... Marie is the work of a moralist as well as of a student of customs and manners."--Lionel Gossman, Modern Language Notes