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Paul Marchand, F. M. C.


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About the Author

Charles W. Chesnutt (1858-1932) was an innovative and influential African American writer of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. His novels published during his lifetime include The House Behind the Cedars, The Marrow of Tradition, and The Colonel's Dream. His work also includes the posthumously published novels A Business Career and Evelyn's Husband, both published by University Press of Mississippi


Reminiscent of Mark Twain's Pudd'nhead Wilson, this tale of morality and choices was written in 1921 by respected black author Chesnutt but never published. It takes place in New Orleans in 1821, at a time when the antebellum South is in its full glory, complete with all of its charms and evils. Slavery is the backbone of its prosperity, and its inhabitants, both white and colored (e.g., those of mixed race, whose status was determined according to bloodline) enjoy freedom and great luxury. Paul Marchand, an educated and wealthy quadroon (one-quarter black) who has lived for many years in France, is suddenly declared the head of an old and powerful white family. This twist of fate presents him with a grave moral and personal dilemma: he can continue to live as a free man of color, or he can renounce everything that is familiar and dear to him and assume a new identity as a "respected" white man. Racism is the driving force of this tale‘all are motivated by it, all react to it, and few challenge it. Ultimately, nothing changes. A brief, thought-provoking novel.‘Janis Williams, Shaker Heights P.L., OH

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