‘Faites-vous français, allemand ou américain. C'est le seul moyen d’être respecté et protégé sur le sol d'Haïti … Faites-vous donc étranger, et Haïti deviendra pour vous un délicieux paradis …’—Justin Lhérisson, La Famille des Pitite-Caille (1905)
‘Monde noir, ai-je dit? Cela aussi est un péché de rhétorique, car même la couleur de leur peau s'en allait se différenciant du brun chocolat, du chocolat clair au noir d’ébène ou au rouge brique.’—Jean Price-Mars, La Vocation de l’élite (1919)
‘Tout cet africanisme m'ennuie. Je peux bien aussi chanter mes ancêtres blancs.’—Carl Brouard, ‘Thibaut de Champagne’
An epistemological practice of (mis)reading that involves a priori judgments about the political ideologies operating in a text based on the perceived “race” or skin color of the author involved, whose origins I have located in claims Victor Schoelcher made about ‘l'imagination jaune’ of nineteenth-century Haitian historians, is directly linked to the relative critical silence surrounding the published version of Pierre Faubert's play Ogé, ou le préjugé de couleur. Despite the fact that Faubert was internationally known for his poetry and drama in the nineteenth-century Atlantic World (Bonneau, 1862, 14; St. John, 310–11; Vapereau, 967; Viau, 1861, 4; Schoelcher, 1893), the printed version of Ogé, which appeared in Paris with C. Maillet-Schmitz in 1856, has been largely overlooked, dismissed, or discounted in twentieth-century literary criticism. Bearing the broad influence of the trope of the “colored historian,” when Faubert's drama has been mentioned in contemporary accounts of nineteenth-century Haitian literary culture, it is usually only within the peritext of a larger argument about “mulatto” biases (Garrigus, 2010, 20; Hoffmann, 1994, 366; Bongie, 1998, 284). As such, interpretive readings of the actual content of the play, with the notable exception of the chapter ‘Transamerican theatre: Pierre Faubert and L'Oncle Tom’ in Anna Brickhouse's Transamerican Literary Relations and the Nineteenth-Century Public Sphere (2004), have ordinarily been subordinated to ancillary footnotes or asides.
One example of the way in which preconceived notions about the political ideology behind Faubert's play have inhibited attempts to interpret it on literary grounds involves the inference and often the direct claim that Faubert had significantly revised his play after being forced into exile in 1851 in order to make it appear to be about combating color prejudice.