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Oddities

Not every work in AAS's wide-ranging Caribbeana collection can be easily categorized. Some of the most intriguing and distinctive items included here could fit into many other subject groupings, or into none of them. 

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This volume slips between genres almost at each turn of the page. Visually striking, it begins with a frontispiece depicting "The Genius of Jamaica Attended by the Head Devil of the Occidental Press," and several other woodcuts scattered throughout. A sarcastic and caustic dedication to "The most illustrious and right dulcet, the Isle of Jamaica," is signed "Your Grace's most devoted, but certainly, not very partial, admirer." A preface addresses the reader thus: "tho' I have let loose my thoughts on the great African mountains, it was done merely for thy amusement and information - but if thou shouldst wantonly hurt, torture, or murder them, or even commit an unprovoked or unjustifiable assault and battery on any of them - the GRAND COURT IS OPEN  - nay, is even now SITTING, and in judice lis most certainly erit!" What a way to preempt the critics!

Even the contents of the book are difficult to place - describing a journey taken from Jamaica, through Africa, to the Cape of Good Hope, it is not immediately clear whether this narrative is fictional or factual. There are even botanical investigations accompanying the driving narrative story. This utterly fascinating volume absolutely defies clear or easy categorization.

(In French) This pamphlet contains two letters written and signed by Malouet,who at the time of writing was the French minister of the navy. Both letters address and give instructions to three individuals who have volunteered to aid the French crown in Haiti and to forge connections with local leaders about the reinstallation of monarchical authority. Part French response to the Haitian Revolution, part political machination, this pamphlet defies easy categorization in large part because its publicationin Haiti, by order of the Haitian rulerraises questions about its intentions and authenticity. 

A series of writings in the form of lectures (though there is no evidence any were actually delivered), this book offers "academic" analysis of what the author describes as "Negro Proverbs." These could be more familiarly described as folk tales, and if the author had done more to detail the events of the tales themselves, this book would qualify as a literary volume. As it focuses instead on the origins and implications of each "proverb," it may be better understood as a form of literary analysis combined with early sociology.

Dedicated to Americans seeking tropical vacation homes, this short volume serves mainly as a comparison between the relative attributes of the United States and Jamaica, comparing the Jamaicans unfavorably to their northern neighbors, but suggesting that more U.S. residents take up residence in Jamaica. The natural way in which a connection between Jamaica and the United States is assumed indicates a perspective that the two are not so far removed from each other.

An unbound printing of a primary source account, the narrative recounts one of the most interestingand potentially troublingevents in the history of U.S.-Caribbean relations. Beginning with Narciso Lopezs escape from Cuba in 1849 and ending with his execution in 1851, this publication is a firsthand account of Lopezs paramilitary efforts to invade Cuba and win it for U.S.annexation. 

How to categorize a book like this, which has characteristics of almost every subject area included in the Caribbean Project, and more? Redpaths edited volume is an overview of the Haitian world from almost every imaginable angle, from a vantage point of 1860s Boston.

The introduction to this part-travelogue, part-planter's guide begins with these words: "We cannot advise any mere man or woman of fashion, young or old, to take up this volume." The story of a young man who leaves the city for to move to Santo Domingo and become a farmer, this personal narrative takes on elements of memoir and fiction, as well as displaying troubling racial prejudices. 

This 1869 publication reads like a linguistics dissertation, made all the more interesting by the fact that it was not published in Cambridge or New Haven, but in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad. Intended to aid translations between Creole and English, and correct misconceptions about the former, the author breaks down the Creole language (the one he himself had familiarity with) by its orthography, etymology, syntax, and idioms. It manages this through constant comparisons to both French and English.

The preface acknowledges this beautiful and distinctive book is modeled after the English Stud Book. As the Jamaican thoroughbred is "capable of holding his own," however, Palache delivers a comprehensive stud book, tracking the breeding, race records, ownership, and training of hundreds of horses, both stallions and mares.