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Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's Founding Work: The Voyage a L'île de France

Robin Howells
The Modern Language Review
Vol. 107, No. 3 (July 2012), pp. 756-771
DOI: 10.5699/modelangrevi.107.3.0756
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.5699/modelangrevi.107.3.0756
Page Count: 16
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Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's Founding Work: The Voyage a L'île de France
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Abstract

Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's remarkable first publication (1773) is considered here in broad terms, but also as the ‘founding’ work of an œuvre best known for the Études de la nature and Paul et Virginie. Compared with other contemporary voyage narratives, it is characterized by a freer structure, strong social critique, intense sensibility, and personal voice. It sympathetically depicts disadvantaged groups (from Breton fisher families to black slaves on Mauritius), and advocates a free agriculture connoting (especially at the Dutch Cape) stability and plenty. While Bernardin's early philosophy of nature is conflictual, he identifies in the world symbolic figures of utopia, balance, and refuge.

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