In 1819, Haitian playwright, polemicist, journalist and statesman Juste Chanlatte published Néhri, Chef des Haytiens, his dramatized, fictionalized version of Haiti’s final victory over France. It has been presumed lost or unpublished for 200 years.
Today, it is back.
This site offers:
* new biographical information on poet, playwright, pamphletist and statesman Juste Chanlatte whose life – like that of so many early Haitian figures – has been subject to supposition and hearsay;
* a material history of the physical copy of the book itself, located in Chantilly, tracing its passage from one French bibliophile to another, rebound and miscatalogued;
* previously unrecorded series of reviews that traveled across three continents and over two oceans in the weeks following King Henry I of Haiti’s suicide in 1820, as well as the extant evidence that the play was performed and discussed.
Néhri is one singular item in the literary and material culture of the short-lived kingdom of Haiti, and this is the beta version of a site devoted to analyzing ways in which objects and stories of the kingdom of Haiti were circulated, pilfered and traded after the collapse of the regime, then scattered into public and private archives around the world.
As it develops, our project will track the flotsam and jetsam of the kingdom, and foster conversations and collaborations around the fallen regime.