In 1788, despairing that her play on slavery, Zamore and Mirza, would never be produced – the ComédieFrançaise had taken it on two years previously, but were holding it hostage for obscure reasons – Olympe decided to publish it on her own account. The title page announces that the book was printed in Paris, and that it may be bought at the author’s own house, rue du ThéâtreFrançais. At the end of the book, she added a short (7 pages) essay, entitled: “Réflexions sur les hommes negres.” In this piece she gives an account of how she first became interested in the fate of slaves in the colonies, and what she sees as a fundamental flaw in pro-slavery arguments : namely, there are no natural differences between human beings based on their skin colour.
Here are extracts from her argument:
“As soon as I began to acquire some knowledge, and at an age where children do not yet think, the first sight of a negro woman led me to reflect, and to ask questions about colour.
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This is where I live blog about my new book project, an intellectual biography of three French Revolutionary women philosophers.