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Les avantures de Jacques Sadeur dans la decouverte et le voiage de la Terre Australe

Date: 1692
Dimensions:
Overall: 166 x 97 x 29 mm, 0.25 kg
Medium: Paper, leather covered boards, gilt
Credit Line: ANMM Collection
Classification:Books and journals
Object Name: Book
Object No: 00019490
Place Manufactured:Paris

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    Description
    A Utopian novel by Gabriel de Foigny titled 'Les avantures de Jacques Sadeur dans la Decouverte et le Voiage de la Terre Australe' ['The Known Southern Land: That is to say, the description of that country hitherto unknown, and of his manners and customs by Mr. Sadeur, with the adventures which led him to this Continent, and of the stay he made there for thirty-five years and more and his return'] published by Claude Barbin, Sainte Chapelle, Paris.
    The contents as appearing on the title page are in French 'Les Coutumes & les Moeurs des Australiens, leur Religion, leurs Exercises, leurs Etudes, leurs Guerres: les Animaux particuleurs a ce pais & toutes les raretex curioses qui s'y trouvent' [The dress and customs of the Australians, their religion, their physical exercises, their studies, their wars; the animals peculiar to that country, and all the rare and curious things that are found there].

    The book is presented as a manuscript written by Jacques Sadeur on his return from Terra Australis but kept secret by the French Government. The book recounts his arrival in Australia, a land occupied by a race of hermaphrodites, and life there for 35 years and his eventual expulsion.
    SignificanceIn this imaginary work, Gabriel de Foigny presents a seventeenth-century opinion on what a Utopia would look like, its inhabitants, social and political system and natural environment. The setting in this case is Terre Australe, a known yet unexplored land ripe with possibilities for both writers and social commentators of the time.
    HistoryFrance with England sought colonies in both North America and the Pacific, yet unlike England, French exploration was preceded by a century of mythic, ideal fantasies and Utopias that paved the way for actual discovery.
    'Les avantures de Jacques Sadeur dans la Decouverte et le Voiage de la Terre Australe' is one of the earliest of these. It is one of the most significant imaginary voyages.The author, a defrocked Franciscan priest, who fled
    to Switzerland and was later dismissed from a teaching post for alleged drunken vomiting in church sets the scene by reminding the reader of the accounts of Marco Polo, Magellan and de Quiros. Unlike those voyages however, this one had been kept 'secret', and could only now be safely revealed.

    The hero is a shipwrecked French mathematician. After the loss of the ship off the coast of Africa, "l floated for many hours by means of my plank". He discovers a Utopia ,Terra incognita Australis, mathematically divided into 15,000 provinces. In a school he learns something of the country. The people are hermaphrodites, eight feet high, with lips "of a deep red coral". They worship a God who created them 12, 000 revolutions of solstices ago. A republic is the form of government, a country in remarkable contrast to Europe with its "black treasons, bloody conspiracies, and cruel butcheries". After staying for 35 years, he flies away on a large bird, finally reaching Madagascar.

    'Les Avantures' was published in 1676, before appearing in English as 'A New Discovery of Terra Incognita
    Australis' (1693), a translation of this the second edition. At least 12 French Utopias were located in Australia. After
    storm or chaos, travellers arrived by flying-machine, tunnelling through the Earth, or being marooned by sailors. The order of the new society was reflected in the climate, which was for da Foigny for example,"a kind of perpetual summer". The land was "equally fertile in nearly all parts".

    The Utopia was a safe way of expressing a political critique, something otherwise not encouraged in the France of the Sun King. At the same time, to make its point it had to be plausible enough, so as not to be dismissed out of hand. As
    such, 'Les Avantures' is a fascinating insight into the ideas of a well-educated European of the period.
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