Web Letters | The Nation

Web Letter

In the final paragraph of this excellent piece, Jelly-Schapiro describes the Mardi Gras Indians as an "only in New Orleans" tradition. But there is a very similar tradition of "Indian mas" in the southern Caribbean, in Trinidad Carnival, with obscure origins in the nineteenth century. It is tantalizing to speculate how one may have influenced the other, and vice versa. Perhaps some future scholar will manage to demonstrate a clear link.

Nicholas Laughlin

Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago

Dec 23 2008 - 2:15pm

Web Letter

"...and rock the city with their Congo dances." Great review, and the books sound good. But Ned Sublette is on shaky ground (excuse the pun) claiming this 1819 letter was the first use of "rock" in this sense. He should read his Shakespeare: "and rock the ground on which these sleepers lie," says Oberon, and anyone who has directed the play with undergrads recently knows it's impossible to speak the line without our contemporary meaning.

Walter Bilderback

Philadelphia, PA

Dec 18 2008 - 8:17am