Literary Representations of the Haitian Revolution: A Teaching Resource for Pierre Faubert’s Oge ou le Prejuge de Couleur and Emeric Bergeaud’s Stella

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Literary Representations of the Haitian Revolution: A Teaching Resource for Pierre Faubert’s Oge ou le Prejuge de Couleur and Emeric Bergeaud’s Stella
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Literary Representations of the Haitian Revolution: A Teaching Resource for Pierre Faubert’s Ogé ou le Préjugé de Couleur and Émeric Bergeaud’s Stella
Zavitz, Erin
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Page 1 Literary Representations of the Hait ian Revolution: A Teaching Resource for Pierre Faubert’s Og ou le Prjug de Couleur and meric Bergeaud’s Stella By Erin Zavitz I. Introduction Published in Paris within three years of each other, Pierre Faubert’s play, Og ou le Prjug de Couleur: Drame Historique (1856) and meric Bergeaud’s novel, Stella (1859) are two of the earliest literary representations of the Haitian Revolution by Haitian authors. While poets and essayists had celebrated the revolution and its heroes in print for decades, Og and Stella are, respectively, the first theatrical production and book-length fictional treatment of Haiti’s foundational event. Moreover, their publication o ccurred concurrently with lengthy historical treatises by Haiti’s early historians.1 The play and novel illuminate how Haitians decided to portray the revolution across genr es. Yet, the two texts, along w ith nineteenth-century Haitian poetry, have received little sc holarly attention. Disregarded as French imitations, state propaganda, or simple precursors to the “real” Haitian literature of the twentieth-century, nineteenth-century Haitian texts have largely be en ignored in scholarly publications and the classroom. Even the recent comparative work of Raphael Dalleo relegates nineteenth-century authors to a footnote (Da lleo, 246). He contends that a public sphere did not exist until the first U.S. Occupation (247). Over a century of earli er publications were not worthy his attention because authors had to rely on the state as their public and this curtailed critique and free thought (246). Dalleo limits Haitian authors to a nationa l public sphere and fails to explore how an Atlantic readership may have functioned as an additional sphere as it did for the Anglophone Caribbean. Nineteenth-century writers were engage d in creating a national literary tradition; however, their audience was larger than elite, French-literate Haitians (Reinsel, 10-11). They were also actively involved in countering European and American images of the island nation and garnering the support of abolitionists. As a consequence, Haitian publications had a second audience of French-literate read ers in the former metropole, Gr eat Britain, and America. Thus, we cannot dismiss nineteenth-century texts becau se of writers’ associations with the Haitian state. This teaching guide for Pierre Faubert’s play and meric Bergeaud’s nov el begins to counter these omissions The play and novel share the same subj ect, the Haitian Revolution; however, each author approaches the event through a differe nt lens. Faubert’s play focuses on an early revolt led by Saint Domingue’s gens de couleur in 1790, while Bergeaud recounts the entire revolution from 1789 to 1804. The recent re-publication of Stella and the digitization of both texts (links to the digita l versions are included in the guide) ma ke them easily available for use in various French or Francophone lite rature courses. First, their di fferent historical foci raise questions on how to narrate the revolution, particularly in light of negative foreign publications and Haiti’s continued international ostracism. Th ey could be read alongside French publications on the revolution in literature c ourses, such as Victor Hugo’s Bug Jargal or Alphonse 1 Particularly important is the multi-volume history by Bergeaud’s own cousin, Beaubrun Ardouin, published in Paris between1853 and 1860.


Page 2 Lamartine’s Toussaint Louverture The historical themes, specifically color prejudice, could also be linked with contemporary publications on slavery—Claire de Dufort Duras’s Ourika (1823) and Marie Fontenay de Grandfort’s L’Autre Monde (1855).2 Except for Ourika and Bug Jargal the texts were published in the aftermath of the peaceful end of slavery and enfranchisement of non-whites in the other French Caribbean colonies and offer larger discussion of race relations and slavery in French and Francophone literature.3 Second, the texts serve as important examples of Haiti’s early national literature and are va luable contributions to the growing study of Francophone Caribbean literature. Some of the earliest French Caribbean publications, they refocus our attention beyond the co mmonly used twentieth-century authors from Martinique and Guadeloupe (Maryse Cond, Patrick Chamoiseau, a nd Aim Csaire). More importantly, the two texts could be used in courses on Haitian lit erature to fully expl ore the evolution and development of literary traditions. This guide is divided into a co llection of “modules” accessible belo w to allow the instructor ease of full review and freedom of choice. The modu les include: synopses of the texts, authors’ biographies, historical context, common themes and close readings, a nd bibliography. Each section also includes a suggested reading list and links to other related documents and/or images in the Digital Library of the Caribbean ( Inst ructors may browse through each module to find the relevant material on the novel and play for a course. II. Synopses A. Og ou Le Prjug de Couleur Online: Set in 1790, the play opens with a conversation between two French planters, the Vicomte de la Ferrire and the Marquis de Vermont, about the po tential marriage of their children. Ferrire’s daughter, Delphine is due to return from her st udies in France and the gentlemen surmise the next logical step is marriage. The Marquis’ s son, Arnold, who has sp ent his life in Saint Domingue and represents the decadent white creole enthusiastically agrees explaining that any woman would want to quickly become his wife (45). Their musings are interrupted by the household slave Annette who bears the news that free men of color recently returned from Paris have revolted. As the men exit, Delphine and her a unt arrive at the house after their journey from France. The revolt of Vincent Og, Jean-Baptiste Chavanne, and Alfred (a fictional third leader invented by Faubert) outside the northern port-city of Cap Franai s is the central action of the play. Yet, around the armed struggles, the reader le arns of the secret love between Delphine and Alfred who met in Paris and the moral crisis of racial discrimination th at poisons the French colony. 2 In his preface, Faubert himself places his work in conversation with Grandf ort’s text and literary scholar Anna Brickhouse has begun to work on reading the two texts together, see Transamerican Literary Relations and the Nineteenth-Century Public Sphere (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004). Duras’s Ourika would complement the two other works and expand the conver sation of race and slavery in nineteenth-century Francophone texts. L’Autre Monde is also available digitally through Google books and printed copies of Ourika in English or French are readily accessible. 3 France abolished slavery in 1848.


Page 3 B. Stella Online BergeaudÂ’s Stella is a combination of allegory and histor ical narrative. The novel begins with a brief description of the then two dominant im ages of Saint Domingue: natural fecundity and plantation slavery. Bergeaud proceeds by introducing the main characters: lÂ’Africaine, le Colon, the brothers Romulus and Rmus, a nd Stella. Each of these five is more than just a character in the story but an archetypal figure of revoluti onary Saint Domingue. LÂ’Africaine, the mother of Romulus and Rmus, stands in for slaves in ge neral and is the symbol of mother Africa. Le Colon represents French planters and the colo nial system. Stella, a blue-eyed, blonde-haired French girl, is liberty who travels from Fran ce to Saint Domingue. La stly, Romulus and Rmus are an amalgamation of the four main revolutiona ry leaders, Toussaint Louverture, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, Andr Rigaud, and Alexa ndre Ption. Alongside them app ear real historical figures such as the French general Rochambeau. This bl ending of fiction and history continues in the organization of the novel. After presenting the five main characters, BergeaudÂ’s plot follows the timeline of the Haitian Revolution complete with footnotes to name specific battles, cities, and generals. Thus, the conclusion of the novel is no surprise, Haitian i ndependence. He takes artistic liberty, however, in portraying charactersÂ’ motivations and influences throughout the revolutionary struggle. Le Colon, a representative of French colonialism, is to blame for the feud between the brothers and for bringing in th e corrupting force of color prejudice. More importantly, Stella as the idea of liberty brought from France suggests an intriguing analysis of the relationship between the French and Haitian re volutions and the ideological agency of HaitiÂ’s revolutionary leadership. Her role is one of the potential disc ussion themes outlined in that section. From the slave huts of le ColonÂ’s plan tation, where we meet lÂ’Africaine and her sons, Romulus and Rmus, to the celebrations of independence, Bergeaud weaves together an allegorical tale of Ha itiÂ’s violent birth. III. AuthorsÂ’ Biographies Though details on their lives are incomplete, the following brief biographies provide a summary of available information. Whether or not Bergeau d and Faubert crossed paths in Port-au-Prince or in Paris, they were both members of the French-literate mulatto elite. Their social and economic status placed them in similar circles wi th other authors, spec ifically the brothers Ardouin and Nau who were actively engaged in cr eation of a national l iterature. While this position was advantageous for inte llectual growth, their connection with the mulatto elite and the former government of president Jean-Pierre B oyer made them political targets. The power struggles among black and mulatto factions in the 1840s forced both authors to flee Haiti. Writing in exile provided a privileged space to celebr ate the Haitian past and critique the present. French literary scholar Lon-Franois Hoffma nn explains BergeaudÂ’s exile in St. Thomas allowed him to develop the image of a new l eader for Haiti, the novelist, not the politician (Hoffmann, Essays, 113). FaubertÂ’s exile in Pari s, Anna Brickhouse contends, helped him find a place in a transAmerican, or perhap s even trans-Atlantic, public sp here (236). In either case, as Amy Reinsel points out for Haitian poets of the same generation, exile cultivated strong feelings of nostalgia that led to celebra ting the beauty and wonders of Ha itiÂ’s past in face of current political strife (60-61).


Page 4 A. meric Bergeaud (1818-1858) Bergeaud was born in the southern city of Le s Cayes in 1818. At this time, the country was divided into a northern kingdo m ruled by Henri Christophe (who was primarily of African descent) and a republic led by Jean-Pierre Boyer (a mulatto). A third schism had occurred in the south under the mulatto revolutionary leader A ndr Rigaud. When Rigaud returned to the island in 1810 he founded his own state in southern Haiti, lÂ’Etat du Sud Upon RigaudÂ’s death, BergeaudÂ’s uncle, Jrme Maximilien Borgella, b ecame the stateÂ’s leader; however, realizing the precarious situation of Haiti as a divided island, Borgella helped reintegrate the southern state into the republic based in Port-au-Prince. As a young man Bergeaud worked for his famous uncle, who was then commander for the region of Les Cayes. His uncleÂ’s life would later become the foundation of mulatto historian B eaubrun ArdouinÂ’s multi-volume history of Haiti. Ardouin was BergeaudÂ’s cousin, a fellow intellectual, and the publisher of Stella following BergeaudÂ’s death in 1858. Thus, BergeaudÂ’s geneal ogy places him squarely in the elite mulatto circles of nineteenth-century Hai ti, a position which is important in terms of representation of the revolution and emphasis on unity. More importantl y, with the fall of Jean-Pierre Boyer in 1843 and the ascension of Faustin Soulouque, a former slave, in 1848, Bergeau dÂ’s connections and his involvement in a failed coup made him a potential target of SoulouqueÂ’s anti-elite violence. He fled the country in the spring of 1848 and lived in exile on the island of Saint-Thomas until 1857. Here, Bergeaud wrote Stella with the images of the recent Ha itian conflict fresh in his mind. In the final year of his life, Bergeaud traveled to Paris in the hope of receiving medical treatment. During his visit he gave Ardouin a copy of th e manuscript, and, following, his death, Ardouin published the novel with a Parisian press. A s econd printing occurred in 1887 under the guidance of BergeaudÂ’s widow, and this edition is availa ble on the Digital Library of the Caribbean. A third edition has recently been published by th e Swiss ditions Zo with a preface and the 1859 introduction by Beaubrun Ardouin. B. Pierre Faubert (1806-1868) Also a native of Les Cayes, Faube rt was the son of a revolutionary war general. As he explains in the playÂ’s dedication, thanks to hi s mother he received an educa tion in France. Faubert returned to Haiti, where he quickly rose in the ranks of Jean-Pierre BoyerÂ’s government. He began as the presidentÂ’s aide de camp and then his personal secretary. Du ring the final five years of BoyerÂ’s rule, 1837-1842, Faubert was the director the nati onal high school in Port-au-Prince. And it was here that he first performed the play Og with his students on Febr uary 9, 1841. Faubert wrote the piece to celebrate HaitiÂ’s past and illustrate the danger of color prejud ice. He also hoped to show foreign visitors, such as the French abolitio nist Victor Schoelcher, that color discrimination did not exist in independent Haiti. Two years af ter the performance, power struggles in Haiti forced Faubert to flee to Paris where he published the play along with a collection of poems. In his introduction, he explains that he is writing in reaction to Schoe lcherÂ’s claim that the play was a piece of propaganda ordered by President Boyer (Faubert, 13). Faubert adamantly denies the claims and includes a section of notes at the end of the publication to furt her justify his actions. FaubertÂ’s motivations and his focus on free people of color raise questio ns for discussion about how intellectuals chose to represent the revol ution in writing. Unlik e contemporary mulatto intellectuals, Faubert never returned to live in Haiti, though he became a diplomat for Geffard who overthrew Soulouque in 1859. He helped the president negotiate th e concordat with the


Page 5 Vatican which granted Haiti recogn ition and the right to have Cat holic priests start schools. A complicated step in Haiti’s development, the concordat allowed for the growth of education, though still primarily in urban cente rs and for wealthier Haitians. Nevertheless, this system was neo-colonial in nature because Haitians learned not their own language or history but French and France’s glorious past. Faubert, a member of Haiti’ s elite, celebrated the country’s initial steps towards revolution in the play; how ever, he died a pauper in the s uburbs of Paris in 1868. Suggested reading: Volume one of the encyclopedic Histoire de la Littrature Hatienne by Raphal and Pradel Pompilus (Port-au-Prince: Editions Carabes, 19 75) provides biographical detail for both authors (for Bergeaud,192-200 and Faubert, 92 and 280-88) along with summary of the texts and excerpts.4 Anne Marty’s preface in the 2009 edition of Stella also has an informative discussion of Bergeaud’s life and intellectual climate of ni neteenth-century Haiti, see Bergeaud, meric. Stella 3rd edition. Paris: ditions Zo, 2009. A more deta iled discussion of Faubert’s life can be found in Robert Cornevin, Le Thtre Hatien: Des Origines Nos Jours (Ottawa: Editions Lemac, 1973) 87-90. IV. Historical Context The historical context for both texts is two-fol d. First, published in Pari s in the 1850s, the play and novel represent attempts by Haitian intellectuals to combat the negative press surrounding the country’s image under emperor Faustin I (Fau stin Soulouque), and th e continued internal struggles in Haiti’s elite. Second, because th ese are fictionalized accounts of the Haitian Revolution, it is necessary to provide a brief discussion of the complicated and tumultuous events that led to th e country’s founding. Haiti, 1850s The play and novel appeared in Paris with in three years of each other, 1856 and 1859 respectively. Faubert at the time of publicati on was living in exile. Bergeaud, who had completed his manuscript the year before while also in exile, did not live to see hi s novel in print. Each author had fled Haiti because of government purges led by Emperor Soulouque against mulatto intellectuals. To contextualize their exile and writi ngs it is necessary to step back a decade to the 1840s and the fall of one of Haiti’s longest ru ling leaders, Jean-Pierre Boyer. Boyer’s presidency, 1818-1843, was a period of national growth as well as the creation of new obstacles in Haiti’s development. The most notable and infamous include the unification of the entire island and the signing of a recognition treaty w ith France that burdened the country’s economy with a large indemnity. By the 1840s a consid erable opposition had formed and the country plunged back into warfare. The winning group of el ites began a policy of pl acing black rulers in power and ruling from behind the scenes. In 1847 the aging puppet president, Rich, passed away and the political elite searched for a repl acement, another malleable black. They chose a member of the National Guard, Faustin Soul ouque. Born into slavery, Soulouque was an illiterate sexagenarian and viewed by the elite as “the dull head of the Guard” (MacLeod, 36). However, Soulouque quickly surprised his “elect ors” and took control of the government. To 4 This series is difficult to access but does provide valuable details on both authors.


Page 6 consolidate power he attacked his opposition, which he saw as th e predominantly mulatto urban mercantile and intellectual classes that in cluded Faubert and Berg eaud. Soulouque oversaw violent purges of his opponents, which were not unus ual for Haiti or Latin America at this time, and pronounced himself emperor in 1849 and estab lished a nobility. Thou gh ridiculed in the international press, historian Murdo MacL eod argues Soulouque’s coronation and court represented “a symbol of true independence” to fo rmer slaves who could now hold titles of their own (43). Regardless, for the authors Soulouque’s violence and poor leadersh ip illustrated that pride and color prejudice weakened Haiti’s intern ational standing. Comparative images of Soulouque: “Emperor Faustin Soulouqe,” e/haiti/leaders/soulouque.htm Honor Daumier (1808–1879) “Actualits. Soulouque trouvant qu’ Paris, la location des cases est beaucoup trop chre,” line/colorline/cari cature_slideshow.html


Page 7 Haitian Revolution, 1789-1804 Le Partie Francoise De l"Isle de Saint Domingue, 1764, from the Digital Library of the Caribbean: Teaching the Haitian Revolution could take an entire semester; however, to provide useful context for the play and novel the following offers an introduction to the event. The key points to emphasize are the competing agendas of Sain t Domingue’s diverse population, the progression of events, and radical results. A. Eve of Revolution To set the stage for the fifteen-year conflict, it is important to understand how valuable Saint Domingue was to France. By the late 1780s the colony had approximately 8,000 plantations, growing sugar, coffee, or indigo, and produced 2/5th of France’s overseas trade. Taxes on trade were an important source of government revenue for example French planters paid more per slave than their counterp arts in the British Caribbean and th e huge quantity of shipping its trade required offered an ideal traini ng ground for French sailors (Geggus, 5). Thus, the colony had an economic, fiscal, and strategic value for France. B. Groups and Grievances To approach the diverse population it is easiest to divide them into three groups--whites, free people of color, and slaves—and discuss each group’ s grievances in relation to the development of the revolution. 1. Whites The white population numbered around 40,000 and included the elite planter class, grands blancs and lower class whites (sai lors, artisans, shopkeepers), petits blancs Upon news of Louis


Page 8 XVI’s calling of the Estates General5—the assembly of the three estates: nobility, Church, and common people summoned to address government ch anges—in Paris, the planters held secret meetings to elect deputies to send to Paris to represent their agenda The planters had long suffered under the weight of government-controlled trade policies that fa vored merchants. Free trade would mean increased benef its to planters. In addition, they sought local control in politics and wanted representation back in France. Of c ourse, the grands blancs were not in consensus and as events escalated in Fran ce, they found themselves on vari ous sides of the revolutionary struggle. Unlike their wealthy counterparts, the petits bl ancs could not send representatives to Paris. Nevertheless, in Saint Domingue they advocated for voting rights based on European heritage and a larger political voice. White s of all classes, however, quickly joined in the revolutionary fervor, and began the first stag es of the Haitian Revolution. 2. Free People of Color/ Gens de Couleur Similar in size to the white popu lation, there were approximately 30,000 free people of color on the eve of the revolution. They included established mulatto families who owned land and slaves and newly freed African slaves. Vincent Og a nd Jean-Baptiste Chavanne, leaders of the 1790 uprising, came from the wealthier, educated, and property owning group of gens de couleur. Free people of color made up a large proportion of the colonial militia and some could rival grands blancs in education and wealth. However, they faced increasing restrictions on employment, trade, even dress—the planters wanted to maintain social divisions and did not want free women of color to “blur” the lines of fashion. Similar to the white planters, the gens de coul eur lobbied in Paris for political representation. Prominent among them was Og, one of Sain t Domingue’s few free colored merchants.His efforts met with rejection, a nd in 1790 Og sailed back to Saint Domingue armed, not with weapons as the planters feared, but with new ideas of citizenship. Belonging was redefined as fighting for la patrie or homeland (Garrigus, 26). Og was quickly able to put his notions of citizenship to work with the help of Chavanne and his connections with frustrated free colored militiamen in northern Saint Domingue. Initially successful at repelling the government troops, the men later fled through the mountains to the Spanish side of the island. Here, the Spanish governor arrested them and sent Og, Chavanne and twenty-two ot her men back to the French to await a trial in Cap Franais (Garrigus, “Thy Co ming Fame,” 35). As leaders of the revolt, Og and Chavanne faced a horrific public execution that colonial officials hoped would serve as an example to any other radical revolutionaries. Instead of ending turmoil in the colony, the gruesome death of Og and Chavanne led the National Assembly in Paris to grant equal status to gens de couleur born of free parents in 1791. More radical change happened the next year in response to the slave uprising. Granting citizenship to all free people of color, repr esentatives in Paris hope d that ending racial discrimination among the free popula tion would create an alliance between the gens de couleur and Saint Domingue’s whites. The alliance would be short lived; however, the legacy of the gens de couleur’s early struggles, specifically Og’s connection of citizenship and militia service, 5The assembly of the three estates nobility, Church, an d common people summoned to address government changes.


Page 9 would become a powerful force both during the re volution and Haiti’s stat e formation (Garrigus, “Thy Coming Fame,” 38). To be a patriotic Haiti an meant the willingness to take up arms and defend the country’s fragile independence. 3. Slaves Numbering near 500,000 in 1791, the slaves fueled the prosperity of the colony. Divided across the 8,000 plantations the slave experience varied greatly. In the five year period, 1785-1790, leading up to the revolt in August 1791, 30,000 new sl aves arrived each year (Geggus, 7). Thus, Saint Domingue’s slave population had a large po rtion of new slaves from diverse communities in West and Central Africa. The new arrivals faced worsening conditions because of the expansion of coffee plantations, the closing of the maroon frontier, and decreasing manumission rates.6 Moreover, slaves actively observed the ne w divisions among and between the colony’s free populations brought on by the re volution in France. These fact ors and others led slaves around the northern port of CapFranais to rise up. Their motiv ations for revolt are far from transparent. Nevertheless, requests included an additional day off or even full freedom that the slaves believed the King of France had recently given them. Leaders such as Georges Biassou and Jean Franois maintained royalist leanings and fought first in the name of Louis XVI and then for the Spanish king, Charles IV. The great revolutionary leader Toussaint Louverture followed a similar path and only in 1794 did he sw itch back over to fight for the French Republic and take up the call for emancipation. C. Phases As the grievances of the various groups sugge st, the timeline of the Haitian Revolution is far from simple. To manage a discussion of ma jor shifts, though, you can divide it into three sections. For more details and a thorough br eak-down of the chronology see the suggested readings at the end of the section. 1789-91: period of political maneuvering of whites and free people of color, establishment of local government assemblie s in Saint Domingue, a nd slave revolt in the north 1792-1802: Period of foreign wars with Great Britain and Sp ain and civil war between Toussaint and Rigaud 1793, French commissioners Sonthonax and Pove rel abolished slavery in the colony, the following year the National Assembly in Paris ended slavery throughout the empire 1802-1804: War of Independence French fleet returns under Leclerc, Napoleon’ s brother-in-law with 10,000 troops, died of yellow fever and replaced by Rochambeau Toussaint sent to France, di ed in Fort de Joux prison Dessalines and Ption unite to defeat French forces after learning th at French expedition sent to reinstate slavery By French surrender in late Nove mber 1803 over 40,000 soldiers perished 6 The maroon frontier refers to the ability of slaves to ru naway and find isolated pockets of land where they could form maroon, or runaway, communities.


Page 10 D. Radical Results The Haitian Revolution stands out as containing the first successful slave revolt and creation of the second independent state in the Americas. Yet, for each separate group the revolution brought other noteworthy accomplishments: For whites it introduced the first instance of colonial representation in the metropole For free people of color the end of racial discrimination For slaves emancipation, the first in an important slave society For the Caribbean, Haiti’s struggle is unique in comparison to other islands that gained independence through the colonial power’s legislative actions Suggested Reading: For Soulouque and nineteenth-century Haiti few comprehensive works exist. Murdo MacLeod’s article, “The Soulouque Regime in Haiti, 1847-1859: A Revaluation,” Journal of Caribbean Studies 10.3 (1970): 35-48, is a dated but useful introduction. In addition, David Nicholls’s From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Col our and National Independence in Haiti (New Brunswick: Rutgers University Press, 1996) provides historic al context for the whole period and a discussion of mulatto/black debates over how to write Haiti’s history. Geggus, David P. Haitian Revolutionary Studies Bloomington: Indiana Un iversity Press, 2002. The first chapter gives a thorough but concise di scussion of the revolu tion and is an ideal introduction to the history. If you chose to spe nd more time on the revolution itself, two other texts worth considering are C.R.L. James, The Black Jacobins 2nd edition (New York: Vintage Books, 1963) and Laurent Dubois, Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution (Cambridge: Belknap Press, 2004). John Garrigus’s recent work on Vincent Og provi des detail on the revolt and Og’s background, see “Vincent Og Jeune (1757-91): Social Class a nd Free Colored Mobilization on the Eve of the Haitian Revolution,” The Americas 68.1 (2011): 33-62 and “‘Thy Comi ng Fame, Og! Is Sure’: New Evidence on Og’s 1790 Revolt and the Begi nnings of the Haitian Revolution,” in Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World ed. John D. Garrigus and Christopher Morris (College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2010). V. Common Themes Discussion of the play and novel could take many directions depending on their use in your course. The following section outlines several co mmon central themes—color prejudice, Haitian unity, the role of women in revo lutions, and the relationship betw een history and fiction. I have also done close reading and analysis of key passages that deal with the theme of color prejudice. These sections complement the provided histor ical context and could lead to an engaging discussion of literary representations of race and color in Saint-Domingue and nineteenthcentury Haiti. Color prejudice As the biography section explains, both authors were writing from a seat of privilege as Frenchliterate mulattos. Thus, the play and novel portr ay color prejudice as evil and, unfortunately, something that continues under the tyrannical rule of the black emperor Soulouque. The authors’


Page 11 assumption is that their writing wi ll raise awareness of th is issue but that a change of government would truly end discrimination. Color prejudice is the motivating force for both Faubert and his cen tral characters. He states in the introduction that Og’s revo lt “appeared to him to aptly inspire noble sentiments in his students and at the same ti me make them see all that is absurd and hateful in color prejudice” (qui me parut prop re inspirer de nobl es sentiments mes lves et leur faire voir en mme temps tout ce qu’il y a d’absurde et d’odieux dans le prjug de couleur, 12-13). The three l eaders, Og, Chavanne, and Alfred, enact Faubert’s patriotic and noble se ntiments that will triumph over discrimination. An initial scene is the intimate meeting between Alfred and Delphine, the daughter of Le Vicomte, on the eve of the uprising (53-59). From the di alogue the audience learns that they knew each other in Paris where they passed “les be aux jours” together (54). Upon returning to Saint Domingue, though, Alfred is horrified by the discrimination he faces and has decided to take action. He declares: “the most generous of projects, that of forcing our oppressors to recognize our rights: when one feel s in the depths of his soul that one is equal to others, should one suffer the yoke of humiliation they have imposed on you?” (le plus gnreux des projets, celui de for cer nos oppresseurs re connatre nos droits: lorsque l’on sent profondment dans l’me qu’ on est l’gal des autres, peut-on souffrir qu’ils vous imposent un joug humiliant?, 5657). Alfred beseeches Delphine to understand his position and the weight of his su ffering. As he exits th e scene to join the insurgents who are marching nearby, he asks her to remember their happiest moments because they will not meet again (59). Alfred sacrifices his love for Delphine for th e higher ideal of equality, and thus embodies the righteousness Faubert hopes to share with hi s students. As the only fictional insurgent leader, Faubert employs Alfred as the play ’s moral guidepost to avoid any potential historical criticism (for other examples see Alfred’s forgiveness of the white planters in Act II, Scene III). Moreover, Faubert’s use of the gender-neutral third-person singular pronoun “on” in Alfred’s declaration suggests a larger application of racial equality beyond the privileged circles of Saint Domi ngue’s mulatto elite. Read alongside the chants of the insurgents “to liberate their r ace” and “equality or death” (pour affranchir leur race/Egalit ou la mort, 61), Alfred’s “on” could include a ll of Saint-Domingue’s Afro-descendants. Though Og declined Chav anne’s recommendation of arming slaves, Faubert’s historical drama re-i nterprets events to create a greater sense of racial harmony to reassure contemporary a udiences of the end of color discrimination. The play’s publication over a decade later also serves to criticize the anti-mulatto leanings of Soulouque and emphasize the role of early mula tto efforts at equali ty in the larger struggle for Haitian independence. The noble se ntiments of the play’s fictional hero Alfred must be rekindled for Haiti to progress in the nineteenth century. To help students think more critically about Faubert’s repres entations, the class can read John Garrigus’s chapter on Og for better historical groundi ng. As Garrigus points out by the 1840s, Og had lost most of his mystique for the mulatto elite, thus why would Faubert focus on his revolt?


Page 12 Color prejudice in Stella appears later in the narrative’s development. Bergeaud subtly introduces the theme in lessons on pride from the novel’s namesake and liberty’s allegory, Stella. Describing Romulus and Rmus’s victory over le Colon’s troops, Bergeaud moves to Stella’s internal reflecti on on the brothers and their future project. Only she can realize that le Colon has escaped the battle unharmed, while the brothers are blinded by orgueil pride (72). Bergeaud shifts again from Stella to the narrator who further warns about pride calling it “the demon against which Stella’s enlightened friendship was resolved to warn her naive companions” (le dmon contre lequel l’amiti claire de la jeune fille av ait rsolu de prmunir ses na fs compagnons, 72-73). Stella proceeds to recount a moral tale of the evils of pride, conc luding: “See pride and its fatal effects. It embeds itself in the heart follo wing any success; and, if it is not promptly suppressed, it perverts the whol e” (Voil l’orgueil et ses f unestes effets. Il s’introduit dans le coeur la suite d’un succs quelconque; et, s’il n’est promptement touff, le pervertit tout entier, 75). Th rough Stella and the narrator, Bergeaud presents the dangers of pride and foreshadows future conflicts. The lesson also moves beyond the time period of the novel and is Bergeaud’s critique of current Haitian society and politics. The link between pride and color prejudice appe ars in the appropriate ly named chapter, Colonial Machiavelism. Pride a nd jealousy leave the brothers exposed to greater dangers. It is le Colon who is the bearer of the mo st odious prejudice and he persuades Romulus that his brother, jealous of Romulus’s aut hority, is an enemy (115). Le Colon explains, “You differ from your brother by the color of your are of a darker skin tone than him: that is why he believes you are mo rally placed beneath him, and he suffers with pain that you commanded him” (Vous diffr ez de votre frre par la couleur de la peau...vous tes d’une nuance d’piderme plus fonce que la sienne: voil pourquoi il vous croit moralement plac au-dessous de lui, et souffre avec peine que vous le commandiez, 115-16). Unlike the discrimination in Faubert, which pits white planters against gens de couleur, Be rgeaud portrays a prejudice betw een blacks and mulattos that would resonate in contemporary Haiti. Thr ough the omniscient narrator, Bergeaud neatly places the blame for color prejudice on the Fr ench and the colonial system. Moving from the dialogue between Romulus and le Col on, the narrator exclai ms, “ Skin color prejudices are malicious nonsense; color discri mination is a lie...Let us curse nonetheless the diabolic inventions accredited to th e colonists’ machiavelism” (Les prjugs d’piderme sont de malveillantes stupidits; la haine de couleur est un mensonge...Maudissons toutefoi s ces inventions diabol iques accrdites par le machiavlisme des colons, 116). The narrator fi rst dismisses color pr ejudice as a lie and absurdity and then proceeds to tell the reader that it is a product of colonists’ plotting. Bergeaud’s use of the verb maudire stresses the narrator’s anger and horror at the concept of color prejudice. He also conjugates the verb for the first person pl ural, thus potentially including all Haitians in the narrator’s di sgust of discrimination. However, Bergeaud inserts “toutefois” after the verb, suggesting th at color prejudice continues in spite of its stupidity. As the chapter progresses, le Col on becomes the duplicitous character who has introduced the malevolent idea of prejudice and the blame for discrimination cannot be placed on Romulus or Rmus. Why w ould Bergeaud choose to characterize discrimination as a colo nial invention?


Page 13 Haitian unity The opposite of color prejudice, in both cases unity across class and color lines is the only option for success. A discussion of unity could be an id eal follow-up to the authorsÂ’ treatment of color prejudice. Faubert places the theme of unity within de bates over the rights (pages 63-65 and 80-82). His introduction also stresses unity among Ha itians of all colors. Og, though a free mulatto, becomes a hero all Haitians should remember. The conclusion of Stella is a clearer example of the value of unity. Following the brothersÂ’ feud, brought on by co lor prejudice and le Col onÂ’s machinations, Bergeaud demonstrates how the brothers can only defeat their enemy by reuniting (203). Role of Women The principal actors in both texts are men. Yet, what role do women play in the struggle for independence? Here the novels seem to disagr ee about the potential of women in creating revolutionary change. In Og Faubert develops the plante rÂ’s daughter Delphine as a critic of AlfredÂ’s (and the other free men of color) revolt. In their one scene alone, Delphine begs Alfred to leave the fight because it will most surely mean death (56-58). Alfred, however, forsakes love for a higher cause, equality. Delphine later trie s to persuade her father not to harm the rebels (95-97). Her inability to either support violent revolution or change menÂ’s minds leaves her impotent in a convent at the e nd of the play. What does this say about womenÂ’s role in the revolution? Would the conc lusion be different if Delphine was a free woman of color? Why does Faubert match his tragic hero with a French woman? In Stella, the two female characters embody revolu tionary potential. First, the brutal death of lÂ’Africaine at the hands of the le Colon and her journey from Africa serve as an initial motivating force for the brothers (12). It is Stella, the physical form of liberty, who truly illustrates the pow er of women to create change (f or her role in French Revolution see 50-51 and in Haiti 308). However, Stella is white and French, thus her catalyzing presence suggests that for true change Saint Domingue needed an external influence and that local women did not hold the same pot ential. Bergeaud gives women a more active role in the revolutionary struggle, yet the two women are exceptions. LÂ’Africaine descends from a royal family in Africa and Stella is the human form of liberty. How does BergeaudÂ’s characterization of females both in spire and inhibit revolutionary actions of Haitian women? Both, Stella and lÂ’Africaine motivate the brothers through stories of their lives, what does this say about the role of women in Haitian society? How do they compare/contrast w ith Delphine? Writing the Revolution: Hi story or Fiction? The final theme concerns which genres Haitians chose to recount thei r countryÂ’s founding. The publication of the play and novel coincided w ith the printing of Ha itiÂ’s first multi-volume histories. Why did Bergeaud and Fa ubert turn to fiction while th eir colleagues chose history? To begin discussion, you can direct students to the introductions of both texts. Why did each author select his respective genre? What advantages or disadvantages do drama and novels have? In terms of subject matter, w hy did they choose fiction to deal with a history?


Page 14 VV Clark’s chapter on theatrical representa tions of the Haitian Revolution is a useful starting point for thinking about Og Although she does not discu ss the play in detail, she provides three categories for dramas about the revolution: repres entation or mimesis, misrepresentation, and re-present ation (241). Faubert admits that his play is not entirely historically accurate. So, would students place the drama in representation or misrepresentation? Clark also offers a valid conclusion on the value of the plays: “Given the complexities of state rule, no three-to fi ve-act drama can pretend to be documentary; rather these plays devoted to the details of the Haitian Revolution provide a series of cautionary tales” (254). Does her analysis apply to Og if so, how? The recent work of Christiane Ndiaye on Stella helps address the question of genre, specifically in regards to Be rgeaud’s treatment of history. As the close reading above begins to show, he shifts frequently betw een dialogue, the omniscient narrator, and a second historian narrator. Classifi ed as a novel, Ndiaye proposes that it be considered an epic that blends oral history, written history, and literature (2 1). She further contends that Bergeaud’s techniques could be read as part of debate with the emerging field of Haitian history on how to write Haiti’s history. If accessible, reading Ndiaye’s chapter with Stella opens up a new avenue for discussion on the format and genre of the text. To end the conversation of history v. ficti on, students should read the authors’ notes. What purpose do the notes serve and why includ e them in works of fiction? Does the inclusion of notes change student s’ classification of the texts? For a helpful discussion of Faubert’s notes see Anna Brickhouse, Transamerican Literary Relations and the Nineteenth-Century Public Sphere chapter 6. VI. Bibliography Bergeaud, Emeric. Stella Genve: ditions Zo, 2009 ----------digitized 1887 edition Berrou, Raphal and Pradel Pompilus Histoire de la Littrature Hatienne Tome 1. Port-au Prince: Editions Carabes, 1975. Brickhouse, Anna. Transamerican Literary Relations and th e Nineteenth-Centu ry Public Sphere Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004. Clark, Vv. “Haiti’s Tragic Overture: (Mis) Representations of the Haitian Revolution in World Drama (1797-1975).” In Representing the French Revolu tion: literature, historiography and art. Edited by James A. W. Heffernan, 23760. Hanover, NH: Dartmouth University Press,1992. Robert Cornevin, Le Thtre Hatien: Des Origines Nos Jours Ottawa: Editions Lemac, 1973. Dallelo, Raphael. Caribbean Literature and the Public Sphere: From Plantation to the Postcolonial Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2011. Dubois, Laurent. Avengers of the New World: The Story of the Haitian Revolution. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 2005. Faubert, Pierre. Og ou le Prjug de Couleur: Drame Historique 2nd edition. Port-au-Prince:


Page 15 Les Editions Fardin,1979. Fischer, Sibylle. Modernity Disavowed: Haiti and the Cultures of Slavery in the Age of Revolution Durham: Duke University Press, 2004. Garrigus, John. “Vincent Og Jeune (1757-91): Soci al Class and Free Colored Mobilization on the Eve of the Haitian Revolution.” The Americas 68.1 (2011): 33-62. --------“‘Thy Coming Fame, Og Is Sure’: New Evidence on Og’s 1790 Revolt and the Beginnings of the Haitian Revolution.” In Assumed Identities: The Meanings of Race in the Atlantic World edited by John D. Garrigus and Christopher Morris, 19-45. College Station: Texas A&M University Press, 2010. Geggus, David. Haitian Revolutionary Studies Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2001. Hoffman, Lon-Franois. Essays on Haitian Literature Washington D.C.: Three Continents Press, 1984. -----Littrature d’Haiti Vanves, France: EDICEF, 1995. Hoffman, Lon-Franois and Carl-Hermann Middelanis. Faustin Soulouque d’Hati: dans l’histoire et littrature Paris: L’Harmattan, 2007. James, C.R.L. Black Jacobins 2nd Edition. New York: Vintage Books, 1963. Jenson, Deborah. Beyond the Slave Narrative: Politics, Sex, and Manuscripts in the Haitian Revolution Liverpool: Liverpool University Press, 2011. Jonassaint, Jean. “Toward a New Paradigm in Ca ribbean Studies: The Impact of the Haitian Revolution in Our Literature.” In The Tree of Liberty: Cultural Legacies of the Haitian Revolution in the Atlantic World Edited by Doris Garraway. Charlottesville: University of Virginia Press, 2008. MacLeod, Murdo. “The Soulouque Regime in Haiti, 1847-1859: A Revalution.” Journal of Caribbean Studies 10.3 (1970): 35-48. Ndiaye, Christiane. “Stella d’meric Bergeaud: une criture pique de l’histoire.” In Carabe et ocan Indien Edited by Vronique Bonnet et al. Paris: L’Harmattan, 2009. Nicholls, David. From Dessalines to Duvalier: Race, Colour and National Identity in Haiti 2nd edition. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1996. Reinsel, Amy. “Poetry of Revolution: Romanticis m and National Projects in Nineteenth-Century Haiti.” PhD diss., University of Pittsburgh, 2008. Trouillot, Hnock. Les Origines Sociales de la Litterature Haitienne Port-au-Prince: Editions Fardin, 1962.


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