My current project is a BIOGRAPHY-IN-PROGRESS: "JACQUES ROUMAIN -- A Haitian Life Unbound"
WHO WAS JACQUES ROUMAIN?
...eldest son of wealthy Haitian family, born 1907
...grandson of a Haitian president, 1912-13
...student in Switzerland and Spain, 1922-26
...co-founder of important literary journals, 1927-28
...founder of the League of Haitian Patriotic Youth, 1928
...voice against American Occupation of Haiti, 1915-34
...founder of the Haitian Communist Party, 1929
...first Haitian novelist to unmask elites and address the reality of peasant life, 1931
...friend of Langston Hughes, from 1931
...mentored by French ethnologist and founder of the Musee de l'Homme in Paris, Paul Rivet, 1937-39
...outspoken critic of racism in America, 1930s-40s
...director of 1st Haitian Bureau of Ethnology, 1941-42
...author of important papers about Haitian indigenous culture, 1941-44
...Haitian charge d'affaires in Mexico City, 1942-44
...Secretary of Afro-Latin American Institute, 1944
...author of the posthumously published "Gouverneurs de la rosee" ("Masters of the Dew," as trans. by Langston Hughes)
...prisoner, exile, husband, father
...died unexpectedly at age 37.
Although he left an indelible stamp on Haiti culture and intellectual life, this brilliant writer, political activist, ethnologist, and voice of social justice is little known in the English-speaking world. I hope to rectify this in years to come...
HELENE SCHWEITZER: A LIFE OF HER OWN
“In a new and thoughtful examination of the life of Helene Schweitzer, Patti Marxsen presents us with a picture of a resourceful, intelligent, independent-minded woman. Drawing on new primary material in French and German, as well as recent publications, she gives us an account of this remarkable woman, which is not compromised by being written in the shadow of her iconic husband. At once absorbing, moving and thought-provoking.”
—James Carleton Paget, senior lecturer in New Testament studies, University of Cambridge
“As Marxsen makes clear in this readable study, Helene was a forceful humanitarian who played a significant role in the development and continuation of the Schweitzer Hospital in Gabon. Based on new primary sources this is the first English language study of a woman whose international life offers new insights into a forgotten woman and her times. Helene Schweitzer did indeed have a life of her own that is worth remembering.”
—Jean H. Baker, Bennett-Harwood Professor of History at Goucher College and author of Mary Todd Lincoln: A Biography and Margaret Sanger: A Life of Passion
“Patti Marxsen’s book finally gives Helene the attention in America that she deserves. Helene Schweitzer Bresslau does not only deserve our attention as an equal partner to Albert Schweitzer, but also as a unique and independent personality.”
—From the Afterword by Verena Mühlstein M.D., author of Helene Schweitzer Bresslau: Ein Leben für Lambarene
“Patti Marxsen’s book will challenge Schweitzer scholars to further consider the role and importance of Helene Schweitzer in the partnership and in the Schweitzer legacy. There is a renewed appreciation of Albert Schweitzer, and a revision and augmentation of previous accounts of his life and work that left his wife Helene in the background will be of interest to Schweitzer scholars as well as women’s studies scholars. I urge anyone interested in the legacy of Albert Schweitzer and his remarkable wife to read this book. It is a great advance in Schweitzer scholarship.”
—A.G. Rud, Distinguished Professor, Washington State University Department of Teaching and Learning and author of Albert Schweitzer's Legacy for Education: Reverence for Life
“Patti Marxsen’s biography of Helene Schweitzer not only reflects scrupulous research but Marxsen’s remarkable story-telling ability and feminist point of view as she “travels with” her subject, creating a lively context for the woman who now emerges from Albert Schweitzer’s shadow.” Leita Kaldi, Former Administrator, Hospital Albert Schweitzer, Haiti. Author of In the Valley of Atibon and Roller Skating in the Desert. Book Club Facilitator, U.S. National Committee for UN Women. Book Critic, Peace Corps Worldwide.
“These chapters take us inside the world of this complex woman. More importantly, they allow us to see how her drive to be an agent of change influenced Schweitzer, helping him move beyond the intellectual pursuits of music, theology, and philosophy to become a man of action.”
—From the Forewords by Sylvia Stevens-Edouard, Executive Director, Albert Schweitzer Fellowship (Boston)
"A remarkable achievement, this compelling, meticulously researched biography restores Helene Schweitzer Bresslau to her proper stature in history as a modern professional woman of tremendous accomplishment, who, against the odds, fashioned an independent life for herself. Marxsen’s discovery of new sources, combined with her innovative use of existing scholarship, allows her to bring the life of this extraordinary risk-taking woman out of relative obscurity. Through Marxsen’s graceful, admiring prose Helene Schweitzer finally has 'a life of her own.'"
—Kathleen B Jones, professor emerita of Women’s Studies, San Diego State University and author of Diving for Pearls: A Thinking Journey with Hannah Arendt
TALES FROM THE HEART OF HAITI
"These are truly marvelous stories-- steeped in the mystery, the terror, and beauty of Haitian life." -Madison Smartt Bell
"Intertwining the stories of Haitians and the foreigners who wish to help them, Marxsen moves us seamlessly between these two worlds, joining them through tales of love, of spirituality and magic, of connections forged and lost. Writing with both compassion and unflinching honesty, Marxsen’s stories allow us a glimpse into the true heart of Haiti." -Midge Raymond, author of "Forgetting English"
"Every story in Tales from the Heart of Haiti is beautifully realized. The distinct sense of place that informs the collection is wonderfully done, but it's more than that. As I read this book, I thought of Aristotle's rhetorical scheme of inventio (gathering the author's materials), dispositio (arrangement of those materials) and elocutio (the dressing up, through various tropes, of the material. Patti Marxsen hits on all three parts of the process extremely well." -Norman McMillan, Professor Emeritus, University of Montevallo (Alabama) and author of "Distant Son: An Alabama Boyhood."
"Marxsen's Tales from the Heart of Haiti illustrate the nation's sinister undercurrent, along with the naïve or deliberate exploitation of Haitians by foreign do-gooders who compound their miseries. But Marxsen soars above the political mire with descriptions of the country's natural beauty and honest, if sometimes heartbreaking, stories of human passions and spirituality." -Summary of the UNIFEM/USNC Gulf Coast Book Club of Sarasota, Florida
ALBERT SCHWEITZER'S LAMBARENE
"A great piece of work! Wonderful to have such a collection of people's memories and reflections about that momentous time, and also for the ethos to have been brought up to the present day."
Percy Mark, Chairman of Dr. Schweitzer's Hospital Fund of Great Britain
“Albert Schweitzer has inspired many people and many biographies of him have been written. Albert Schweitzer’s Lambarene—written by Jo and Walter Munz and now available in English thanks to Patti Marxsen—provides a fresh view of Schweitzer through numerous chapters, mostly focused on the Schweitzer Hospital in Lambarene, which he founded. The clear style of writing is captured in the translation, as is the humor. Here, the reader is allowed to know Schweitzer through those who loved him. Albert Schweitzer’s Lambarene is a 'must read' for all those who care about Schweitzer and want to understand all aspects of the man.” John Moses. M.D., Former president of the North American Alumni Association for the Schweitzer Hospital in Deschapelles, Haiti
"I just finished reading Albert Schweitzer's Lambarene. There isn't another book in English that even approaches this one in presenting the last years of Schweitzer's life and the subsequent development of the hospital. Congratulations to Patti Marxsen and to Jo and Walter Munz."
Jack Fenner, Post-doc student in archaeology, Australian National Univeristy, and well-known Schweitzerien.
ISLAND JOURNEYS: EXPLORING THE LEGACY OF FRANCE
"Patti Marxsen is the perfect guide for this fascinating journey through the history of France and its empire, exploring its varied legacies as she expertly brings together past and present." -Laurent Dubois, author of "Avengers of the New World: The History of the Haitian Revolution" and "A Colony of Citizens: Revolution & Slave Emancipation in the French Caribbean, 1787-1804"
“This short book of just 122 pages is enchanting …a charming, evocative, thought-provoking and occasionally witty piece of travel writing in the best traditions of that genre.”
Stephen A. Royle, Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland, Book Review Editor of ISLAND STUDIES JOURNAL
"Imaginative. Gracefully written. Passionate. Knowledgeable. We choose to follow this particular guide because she is, of course, curious and well-informed but, more important, she is original." Helen Marie Casey, author of "Fragrance Upon His Lips" and "Inconsiderate Madness"
"The harmony is captivating and the essays reminiscent of Montaigne's comment, 'My style and my mind alike go rambling.' " -Susan Tiberghien, author of "One Year to a Writing Life, Twelve Lessons to Deepen Every Writer's Art and Craft."
"Island Journeys is an essential addition to the existing literature of travel and place." -Michael Steinberg, Founding Editor, Fourth Genre and author of the award-winning "Still Pitching"(2003).
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