[FOIGNY, Gabriel de; RAGUENET, Francois]
[IMAGINARY VOYAGES] Les avantures de Jacques Sadeur dans la decouverte et le voyage de la terre australe
: contenant les coutumes & les moeurs des Australiens, leur religion, leurs exercices … s’y trouvent. Amsterdam : David Mortier, 1732. Duodecimo, contemporary full calf, spine in compartments with gilt ornament and with contrasting title label lettered in gilt, marbled endpapers and edges, pp 341, [2 Approbation]; a very good copy.
Gabriel de Foigny’s fictional work La Terre Australe connue (The South Land, known) was originally published in Geneva in 1676, without the author’s name and the false imprint of Vannes. A second edition appeared in Paris in 1692, with revisions by Francois Raguenet, under the title Les aventures de Jacques Sadeur. An English translation appeared the following year, A new discovery of terra incognita Australis by Mr Sadeur (London, 1693), followed by two other French editions (1693 and 1705) and the Amsterdam edition of 1732 offered here. The work is one of the most celebrated and influential of the Imaginary Voyages genre, a precursor to Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels which uses the postulated Terra Australis Incognita as the setting for its Utopian world. Arriving on this remote southern shore after many trials and tribulations, the protagonist finds himself amongst a native hermaphroditic race. Not only does Foigny create an imagined society freed from distinctions based on gender, he also subverts one of the most deeply ingrained conventions of western civilization in making it a society without hierarchy.
The few facts we know of the life of the mysterious and rebellious Foigny derive from Bayle’s entry under Sadeur in his Dictionnaire critique (1715). Having started his adult life as a Franciscan monk in his native Lorraine, he appears to have left abruptly in disgrace and made his way to Geneva. Here he converted to Protestantism, but was turned away from the church for drunken behaviour. He then married a low class woman of ill repute, and made a living by teaching French to German speakers. He is known to have published some very minor works around this time, dealing with grammar and prayer. Eventually forced to flee Geneva, leaving behind a pregnant maidservant, he journeyed to Savoy, dying in a convent there in 1692.