PDF Retour aux mots sauvages (Littérature Française) (French Edition)

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But that did not imply that any Amerindian was prepared to consider himself as savage at the time of Europe's of the Americas. But the argument that counted in the end was that of force ; might was equated with civilization. There might be sympathy for the defeated, but they had still been proven to be of an inferior order.

Another irony of Europe's confusion of the Wild Man with the was the latter's horror of hairiness. To cite Ves- pucci, " they do not allow any hair to grow on their eyebrows nor their eyelids nor anywhere on the body with the exception of the head , for this reason — because they deem it coarse and animal-like " Jesuits in the Canadian missions observed that their charges were repelled by the hairiness of Europeans, and sometimes openly mocked them on the subject. But the crowning irony was that the had a mythological hairy man of their own, who was also a forest figure. This personnage, who was sometimes female, preyed on young children rather than on women, and lived in the forests of the east as well as those of the west.

Among its better-known contem- porary manifestations is the Sasquatch of the Northwest Coast, who is as familiar to Canadians as Bigfoot is to Americans of the Pacific Coast So the processes of identifying Amerindians with savagery operated on the level of ideology as well as on that of popular mythology.


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To Europeans, reports that Amerindians lived " mangeans racines, demeu- rans tousiours nuds tant hommes que femmes " , implied not that they were living without rules at ail, although that was how it was usually stated, but according to the rules of the non-human world around them. It is known today, of course, that this image does not equate with the facts : no human society has ever been found that conforma to the conditions of animal life m.

Indeed, it has now been recognized that the spiritual aspect of aboriginal Australian life was more fully developed than it is in modem industrialized societies. But in the Europe of the 16th and 17th centuries, the world of nature was seen as having been created for man's benefit. It was the task of man, created in God's image, to reduce nature to human concepts of order. Supported by such an ideological climate, Europe's belief in the hairy. It was easier to prove orthodoxy wrong about the habitability of the Antipodes than it was to dispel popular mythology.

The first was a case of intellectual argument in which some glee was found in discomfiting authority ; but the second was a type of belief that existed independently of scientific fact. The same phenomenon was illustrated by belief in the unicorn, that mytho- logical animal which the Wild Man was able to overcome by sheer physical force, a feat which a pure young lady could match by love. Throughout the Age of Discovery, the unicorn was reported from various parts of the world, including Canada and Florida The gift, considered to be beyond price, was also useful, as it was believed to sweat if placed near poison.

As the Jesuits were to say of the Hurons, beliefs, no matter how appa- rently ridiculous, are hard to eradicate William N. Pierre Larousse , Grand dictionnaire universel, Paris, , 17 vols. The latter adds another meaning, that of " a man holding radical political views ". Giovanni Antonio Maffeo, Histoire universelle des Indes This " frayeur subite " was later considered to be one of the reasons why the Spanish were able to conquer the Amerindians so rapidly.

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IV, Letters of Amerigo Vespucci, London, , 9. Pierre Le Moyne, Les Peintures morales Depuis le matin jusques au soir, il n'ont autre soucy que de remplir leur ventre During the 19th century, Daniel G. Brinton was to theorize that a hunting culture bred a disregard for human suffering, a vindictive spirit, a tendency to sanguinary rites, and an inappeasable restlessness. The task of the missionaries was to render " les sauvages raisonnables ", to enable them to become Christian and sedentary ; ibid. Essai sur les institutions sociales, Paris, , reprint, Geneva, , This belief eventually faded before the necessity to adapt to ways, including Amerindian diet, in order to survive in the New World.

Thwaites, Jesuit Relations The same accusations were used by the Hurons against the French in an attempt to obstruct the efforts of Father Joseph de La Roche Daillon to establish a mission among the Neutrals in Shea, New York, , 2 vols.


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  • L'Huillier, , Paul Gaffarel, Paris, , The latter, Acosta believed, should be constrained to civility. It is now being speculated whether Amerindian pictography, based on sign language, was a precursor of writing. It was once used throughout North and South America, and was apparently universally understood, as it was not associa- ted with sound.

    Martineau ingeniously argues that pre-Columbian Amerindians thus had a higher literacy rate than contemporary Europeans. Thwaites, Jesuit Relations, 1, 11, 13 ; 3, ; 20, For a Spa- nish view on this subject, see the letter of Friar Domingo de Betanzos, written in , which argued that the limitations of Indian languages could easily lead to gross errors in explaining Christian doctrine. Two centuries later, the same point was being argued. See H. Cited by Stephen J. Fredi Chiappelli, Berkeley, , 2 vols. Canadian Indians also had difficulties with the letters f, 1, r.

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    See C " d 10, Publ. For instance, Frobisher's sailors, acting on the assumption that New World natives mated indiscriminately at first encounter, brought together an Inuit man and woman who had been captured separately, and watched in anticipation.

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    The sailors were disappointed. Richard Hakluyt, Principal Navigations Henry Hawks, in Hakluyt, Principal Navigations, 9, Du Tertre noted in the Caribbean that as soon as the Amerindians awakened in the morning, they went down to the river to bathe ; Histoire generalle, French, New York, , Certes for his part was struck by the fact that Mexico's streets were kept clean by squads of cleaners.

    In a Paris physician suggested that the plague could be reduced in that city by keeping the streets clean. Nothing came of the suggestion. Warren H. Lewis, The Splendid Century, London, , And at least one Renaissance writer wondered if the superior health of Amerindians were not due to their habit of bathing frequently : Saint- Michel, Voyage des isles C amer canes, Maurile de Saint-Michel, Voyages des isles C amer canes It has already been noted that Father Lalemant found the Amerindians of New France very dirty in their eating habits.

    The casual use of the word " cruel " is illustrated by F. For instance, Bodin, in speaking about the cruelty of Brazilians, is referring to cannibalism and not to torture ; Jean Bodin, Les Six livres de la Republique, Paris, , VIII, Ch. In another case reported the following eentury, a satyr caused panic among village women : Flavius Philostratus, The Life of of Tyana, transi, by F. Conybeare, London, , 2 vols, 6, Warburg and Courtauld Inst. Jean Chevalier, Dictionnaire des symboles, Paris, Silenus began as a woodland deity who presided over springs and running streams.

    According to Pausanias, Description, 1, 23, the name " Silenus " at one point was applied to ail satyrs.

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    In any event, he was shaggy and fullbearded, had horse's ears and was extraordinarily wise. In the 6th eentury he became. Socrates was compared to Silenus in wisdom, irony and appearance. However, an extremely ancient version of the Wild Man, Enkidu, was the embodiment of natural innocence. Seduced by a harlot, and consequently rejected by his former companions the wild animais, he had no recourse except to go to the city and become civilized. Sanders, The Epie of Gilgamesh, London, , Among French names for l'homme sauvage or similar beings are found Ankou and Annequin, the latter approaching Hellekin or Harlequin.

    Merlin, the master of nature, was descended from an incubus in the guise of a Wild Man. Bernheimer, Wild Men, ; J.

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    Van Gennep, Folklore, I, Cua7, , Denonville to the minister, 13 Nov. Bernheimer, Wild Men, For a discussion of Amerindians as heraldic figures, see Conrad M. For example, the colonization tract of Sir Robert Gordon of Lochinvar. Eusebius, Caesariensis Episcopi Chronicon, Paris, , entry for ,.

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    Leslie A. Europe's judgement and rejection of the Amerindian. In this he was following the line of thought of Dominique. Mannoni, who presented Prospero and Caliban as prototypes of colonizer and colonized in Psychologie de la colonisation, Paris, Other authorities feel that Caliban repre- sents the fickle mob of any society.

    This view was presented by Paul A. Claudius Ptolemaeus, Opus geographiae noviter castigatum et emaculatum, additionibus raris et invisis, neenon cum tabularum in dorso jucunda explanatione Caius Plinius Secundus A. Le Mercure galant, April , The confusion exists even today. When I encountered the hairy man while researching in Paris, my first reaction was to regard this figure as being somehow derived from early reports of Amerindians.

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