Bernardin de Saint-Pierre après Paul et Virginie: Une étude des journaux et de la correspondance sur ses publications au début de la Révolution (1789-1792)
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
Copyright Odile Jaffré-Cook
Reason for embargo
Intending to publish part of the thesis
Bernardin de Saint-Pierre survived the French revolution and was subsequently lionised, becoming a member of the École Normale and the Institut. Maurice Souriau, and most recently Malcolm Cook have looked at his contributions during the French revolution. Both concluded that these were far more substantial than what some critics have hitherto claimed but neither of them conducted a systematic research in the newspapers of the time to see how his work was received. Nor did they consider the correspondence in this respect. This is what this thesis proposes to do. We originally intended to cover the years 1789 to 1799 but we discovered such a wealth of information concerning the first four years of the revolution that we decided to concentrate our research on that period. This ties in with Bernardin’s own publications since hardly anything new was published by him after 1792. This study has revealed that Bernardin had very strong political ideas which he expressed in 1789 with Vœux d’un solitaire and then again in 1792 with Suite des vœux d’un solitaire and in July of the same year he produced a poster entitled: L’Invitation à la Concorde pour la fête de la confédération au 14 juillet 1792. The first three chapters of this thesis analyse the reaction of the press and his correspondents to these publications. We then turn our attention to La Chaumière indienne, first published in 1791 and then again in 1792 where Bernardin included more notes concerning his views on the shape of the earth. If, by and large, the reception of this story was positive, his scientific views triggered enough commentary to justify a section of a chapter dedicated to them. As we progressed in our research, Bernardin’s importance at the time became increasingly evident and we realised that parallel to his own publications, ran an undercurrent of writings paying homage to the man and which we felt helped to build up a portrait of the period. We finish with his nomination as ‘Intendant du Jardin des Plantes’ in July 1792 which led him to write an appeal to create a zoo in the Jardin des Plantes. Throughout 1792 Bernardin’s name was rarely out of the newspapers. This study has shed new light on the persona of Bernardin and helped to underline his importance before, during and after the French revolution.
PhD in French