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Thalassophobia and Geolatry: Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and the Geography of Virtue

Elmarsafy, Z. (2002) Thalassophobia and Geolatry: Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and the Geography of Virtue. Eighteenth-Century Fiction, 15 (1). pp. 35-50. ISSN 0840-6286

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Opinions are divided on the generic character of Bernardin de Saint-Pierre's Paul et Virginie. From the author himself, who calls it a "pastorale" without explaining why and then compares it to Homeric epics, to Jean Fabre, who sees it as an approximation of pastoral, to Jean-Michel Racault, who finds its Utopian pretensions lacking, to Lieve Spaas, who sees in Bernardin's fictional Mauritius a paradise at odds with its native sexuality, critical views abound and readings multiply but provide very few definite answers.' What sort of pastoral is it, after all, where slaves are bought and sold and chaste heroines drown? For my purposes, I should like to draw on past interpretations to read Bernardin as a moralist and Paul et Virginie as an exemplary tale, offering a quasi-religious orientation and something like a moral prescription for a better world." In doing so I am following the example of Malcolm Cook, who has made a persuasive case for a religious reading of Paul et Virginie, but here I would like to suggest that the religion in question is more pagan, almost pre-Socratic, than Christian, and idolizes the land rather than Christ.

Item Type: Article
Institution: The University of York
Academic Units: The University of York > English and Related Literature (York)
Depositing User: York RAE Import
Date Deposited: 04 Jun 2009 15:19
Last Modified: 04 Jun 2009 15:19
Status: Published
Publisher: Mcmaster University
URI: http://eprints.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/6010

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