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[BRICAIRE DE LA DIXMERIE, NICOLAS]. - Le Sauvage de Taiti aux Francais; Avec un Envoi au Philosophe Ami des Sauvages.

 1414423217,
London [ie Paris], chez Le Jay 1770. Octavo, bound after two other works - both lightweight bits of French froth - in contemporary marbled calf with alternating green and red labels (a bit rubbed). A pleasing copy. ¶ First edition of this Tahitian incunabulum - the start of Europe's reverie - a series of letters by a Tahitian visitor to Paris. Which means of course that it is a scathing swipe at French society and politics. Paris had been given the once over by a few fictional Persians, Chinese and other exotics but now not only did they have a 'prince' from the just discovered New Eden but he was real: Aotourou, the Tahitian who accompanied Bouganville to Paris with news of paradise on earth. So how could he not pass judgment? Naturally he chose to do so anonymously and not having more than a few words of French relied on a distinguished man of letters to write them down and fill in the gaps. I must make it clear that Dixmerie uses none of the typical set dressing employed by authors of fictional authors; I'm doing that. He starts with an editor's account of Tahiti that draws from the only published account so far - that of the voyage's naturalist, Commercon, whose report had appeared in the journal Mercure de France in November 1769. Dixmerie was, by the way, a regular contributor to and editor of the Mercure. Dixmerie says that he could say much more about Tahiti but their Tahitian visitor wants his book to be read and has noticed that the French don't read big books. Dixmerie's Tahitian stops short of fermenting revolution but he is nonetheless a radical in the manner of many pre-revolutionary troublemakers. His views of women are contradictory, or perhaps confused, but still he advocates equality at all levels. The confusion is understandable. The pre-occupation of the philosophe with the idea of perfect man and that of the rebellious troublemaker with an ideal society not only intersected, they now had the address: Tahiti. The sales rep was in town. Those who met Aotourou, Dixmerie presumably among them, quickly realised he was no Arcadian but for the rest of France, of Europe, here was ideal man, that is: a man surrounded by amenable young women, nothing much else to do and plenty to eat. In other words the aristocracy. A fair minded egalitarian - a rarer breed than you might think - sees the obligation of including women in this equality business but it's hard when you risk losing that bounty of temporary maidens.
AUD 2850.00 [Appr.: EURO 1801.75 US$ 2101.91 | £UK 1613.5 | JP¥ 236117] Book number 9857

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