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Reviewed by:
  • Lumières et océan Indien: Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Évariste Parny, Antoine de Bertin ed. by Chantale Meure, Guilhem Armand
  • Vladimir Kapor
Lumières et océan Indien: Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Évariste Parny, Antoine de Bertin. Sous la direction de Chantale Meure et Guilhem Armand. (Rencontres, 291; Le Dix huitième siècle, 20.) Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2017. 347 pp.

Building on the topic of a previous collection of conference proceedings, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre et l'océan Indien (ed. by Jean-Michel Racault, Chantale Meure, and Angélique Gigan (Paris: Classiques Garnier, 2011); reviewed in FS, 70, (2016), 266), this new volume constitutes the proceedings of the 2014 conference on the 'Émergence d'une littérature de l'océan Indien au tournant des Lumières: Bernardin de Saint-Pierre, Parny, Bertin', held at the Université de La Réunion, and forms part of a broader scholarly trend to globalize French literary history. The volume's logical three-part organization ('Émergences I: Parny et Bertin, créole et poètes', 'Émergences II: Bernardin de Saint-Pierre du voyage aux œuvres', and 'Postérités et fortunes') highlights its overarching thematic, geographical, and bibliographic coherence, further reinforced by the comprehensive indexes of works, names, and places cited, and the critical bibliography. Alongside Catriona Seth's survey of the tropical aspects of Parny's life and work, and Gwenaëlle Boucher's account of Parny and Bertin's crisscrossed pathways, chapters in the first part break new ground on Epicureanism in Parny's Poésies érotiques (Jean-Claude Jorgensen), the image of the tropical Cythera in the 1781 edition of this work (Angélique Gigan), authentically Madagascan aspects of Parny's Chansons madécasses (Noro Rakotobe-D'Alberto), and Bertin's renewal of the eclogue genre (Guilhem Armand). The two most thought-provoking contributions to the second part offer [End Page 600] complementary interpretations of Paul et Virginie. While Colas Duflo argues that Bernardin's achievement of a 'littérature qui parle l'océan Indien' in Paul et Virginie (p. 150) would not have been possible outside its original editorial context within the Études de la nature, JeanClaude Carpanin Marimoutou's innovative 'spectral' reading of Bernardin's tale reveals the haunting presence of both the subalterns and the departed in the text. Highly original also is Marco Menin's reading of Bernardin's play Empsaël et Zoraïde, set against the self-other dialectics of the author's philosophical works. The third part offers novel insights into Pushkin's translations of Parny, the first Arabic translation, and rewritings of Paul et Virginie, or the changing place of the three authors in textbooks since the late nineteenth century (Hélène Cussac), but remains somewhat eclectic. This is compensated by Chantale Meure and Armand's Introduction, and Jean-Michel Racault's liminary chapter on 'Émancipation coloniale et littérature émergente aux Mascareignes à la fin du XVIIIe siècle', in which the key titular concepts are problematized and given balanced contextualization. These two opening sections examine the deliberately ambivalent use of the preposition 'de' in 'littérature de l'océan Indien', blurring provenance, belonging, and topicality, and argue that coherence between Parny, Bertin, and Bernardin's tropical œuvre is to be sought in a 'fluctuation de l'ancrage référentiel' (p. 10), leading to a 'tension […] entre une recherche poétique pour dire l'ailleurs — du point de vue européen —, un désir de vérité et le sentiments transfigurant le réel pour en dire une autre vérité' (p. 13). Raising as many questions as it answers, showing both patterns between the three authors and lack thereof, this rigorously scholarly collection of innovative essays by some of the leading experts on the topic is an important and timely contribution to the study of the global 'tournant des Lumières'.

Vladimir Kapor
University of Manchester
...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1468-2931
Print ISSN
0016-1128
Pages
pp. 600-601
Launched on MUSE
2018-10-13
Open Access
No
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