Olympe de
Réflexions sur les hommes nègres
Abolition Campaigns
Bibliothèque Nationale de France. British Library.
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Reflections Black Men Slavery Abolition France Theatre Revolution
This epilogue to Olympe de Gouges's play Zamore et Mirza recounts her interest since childhood in the "deplorable plight" (92) of black peoples in the Americas, and her realisation as an adult of the racial prejudices and inequality that kept slavery alive. Despite insisting that she doesn't "know anything about politics", De Gouges calls for the problem of slavery and inequality to be revisited by governments, since "man is equal everywhere" (93). Moved by the "public clamour" (98) over the issue, she also appeals to French actors to raise awareness of slavery by taking on the roles of black characters in her plays.
In Zamore et Mirza, ou l'heureux naufrage, drame indien [Zamore and Mirza, or the lucky shipwreck, An Indian play] (Paris: Chez l'auteur & Cailleau, 1788), NP-99. Olympe de Gouges wrote two plays about slavery. The first was Zamore et Mirza, written in 1783, and performed under the title L'esclavage des nègres [Negro slavery] in 1789. Then it was re-published under the title L'esclavage des noirs [Black Slavery] in 1792, with a preface in which de Gouges attempts to defend herself from charges of "incendiary" writing. Her second play, Le Marché des noirs [The Slave Market] which was written in 1790, no longer survives, having been destroyed by French revolutionaries after de Gouges's execution in 1793. She also wrote a number of polemical essays and articles on the subject of slavery, including Réponse au champion américain [Response to the American champion] published in 1790.