Introduction to The Writer's Cut

All Soul's Rising


Madison Smartt Bell

(Pantheon Books, 1995; Penguin Contemporary Fiction Series, 1996)

      The original draft of my novel All Souls' Rising was considerably longer than the published version, containing forty chapters as compared to the thirty-five chapters of the printed book, and also containing a good deal of other material in alternate versions of the chapters that were printed.
      While the book was being edited for publication, I and two editors (Sonny Mehta and Cork Smith) came to the conclusion that it was too long and too complex and required some shortening and simplification. I found that the easiest and fastest way to accomplish those ends was to eliminate entire characters and the plot lines they were involved in. Those characters and plot lines are restored here:
      Philip Browne is one of the principals-- an itinerant Englishman hired as manager of the Thibodet Plantation, he is involved in embezzlement and fraud. Such abuses on the part of hired managers were common, and often led to the worsening of the lot of plantation slaves.
      Oule, known to the white people as Tullius, is a free black who lives in the town of Le Cap. The idea of a character having two different names in a book that was already overpopulated was especially distressing to my editors. Such double-naming was common enough for slaves and freed blacks, but something did have to be sacrificed.
      Crozac is a lower class petit blanc living in Le Cap where he works as a blacksmith-- he employs Oule/Tullius as a groom and is also involved in Philip Browne's fraudulent schemes, which he has helped instigate. This character does exist in the print version of the book although in a greatly reduced role.
      Some of these chapters are relatively freestanding; others will make more since if read in the context of the published print version of the book. I'm glad to have the opportunity to present these chapters on the Internet at Web del Sol, because I think they give a fuller picture of life in 18th century Haiti, particular among the lower classes in the town of Le Cap. It was necessary to cut out something to keep the book from being too long and too confusing- - but sometimes it's unavoidable to throw out a few babies with the bathwater....

Madison Smartt Bell
February 4, 1996