Bernardin de Saint-Pierre is for most people the author of one book: Paul et Virginie. This new edition of his play Empsaël et Zoraïde, presented in a modernised spelling, makes available a considerably more muscular text which illustrates his abolitionist stance through its central irony: the masters are black and their slaves white, joining forces in the antislavery debate which reached its height with the French Revolution. Bernardin thus introduces into it a rare element of humour which, had his play ever been performed, would have made his audiences sit up and think. This will be of interest to scholars and senior students interested in Black Studies, the French Enlightenment and the literature of revolution.
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Roger Little is Professor of French at the University of Dublin.Language Notes:
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