THE KINGDOM OF THIS WORLD

Carpentier

Haiti

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German Landler (page 164)

This term makes its debut at the end of the novel when Ti Noel, now an old man left to himself, has graciously bestowed upon himself the prestigious title of supreme ruler over an abandoned field. Like many others, Ti Noel has helped himself to the spoils of the Sans-Souci Palace, claiming amongst other things, a music box. The song it plays is known as a German Landler - the symbolic placement of which  in this novel could serve several purposes.

A landler being danced

The Landler was a dance popular in both Austria and Germany around 1690-1720. The fast paced folk dance was perpetuated generally by commoners and peasants - the name aptly derived from the base “land”, implying “country-like”. 

During this time period, dances were generally choreographed by professionals and enjoyed by the elite class of people. Eventually, basic renditions or certain steps of such dances would trickle down to the lower class. However, the Landler was unique in that the social flow began from the bottom up: having evolved in the countryside and later being borrowed by dance-masters to form their own interpretation for the more elite class. Such a movement of influence imposed by the general public on the more fortunate higher class, contradicts the usual current of power and peacefully embodies the design of the Haitian Revolution - in which the slaves sought forced change upon those above them.

Another unique characteristic of the Landler is the fact that this dance in particular calls for not only a partner, but often a series of steps that brings the dancers' bodies closer than accepted by proper etiquette for the time. The reference to a song with such distinct need for a partner may also serve to emphasize Ti Noel's digression into a lack of companionship by the close of the novel.

“Of an afternoon he could be seen sitting...winding his music box, which repeated from sunrise to sunset the same German Landler” (orange cover, page 164).

For further information, go to:

http://www.streetswing.com/histmain/z3landlr.htm

For a YouTube video showing a Landler being danced, go to:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HAG2z47UQrI&feature=related

 


Carpentier
Haiti
Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
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