The Magic Island

The Magic Island


[Seabrook, W.B.] New York: Harcourt, Brace and Company, 1929. First Edition. 8vo. [x] 336pp. 16 glossy pages of photographs by Seabrook. Black boards with embossed image of an island. No dust jacket. Some spots on covers. Rubbing on edges. Overall very good copy.

First-hand accounts by Seabrook of Haitian voodoo and witchcraft rituals. While in Haiti, Seabrook stayed with Maman Célie, a voodoo practitioner and matriarch of a large Haitian family, and attempted to integrate himself into the culture he was trying to write about. Is this work problematic? YES. Seabrook was a white man attempting to explain a religion of the African diaspora. He gets a lot wrong, as is to be expected, and his language is offensive and painful at times.

It should be noted here that this is the first English-language text to discuss the Haitian "living-dead" or zombies. The book was wildly popular and lead directly to the first zombie films, and thereby to our present western cultural understanding of zombies. Seabrook's book was not a success by any measure, but it did bring zombies into popular culture and all western works dealing with the subject have THIS BOOK as a root.

Fun fact: A much-later edition features an introduction by George A. Romero, director of "Night of the Living Dead," et al.

The "1" below Harcourt, Brace & Co on the copyright page indicates First Edition.

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