Colonizer or Colonized

Colonizer or Colonized: The Hidden Stories of Early Modern French Culture

Copyright Date: 2012
Published by:
Pages: 328
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  • Book Info
    Colonizer or Colonized
    Book Description:

    Colonizer or Colonizedintroduces two colonial stories into the heart of France's literary and cultural history. The first describes elite France's conflicted relationship to the Ancient World. As much as French intellectuals aligned themselves with the Greco-Romans as an "us," they also resented the Ancients as an imperial "them," haunted by the memory that both the Greeks and Romans had colonized their ancestors, the Gauls. This memory put the elite on the defensive-defending against the legacy of this colonized past and the fear that they were the barbarian other. The second story mirrored the first. Just as the Romans had colonized the Gauls, France would colonize the New World, becoming the "New Rome" by creating a "New France." Borrowing the Roman strategy, the French Church and State developed an assimilationist stance towards the Amerindian "barbarian." This policy provided a foundation for what would become the nation's most basic stance towards the other. However, this version of assimilation, unlike its subsequent ones, encouraged the colonized and the colonizer to engage in close forms of contact, such as mixed marriages and communities.

    This book weaves these two different stories together in a triangulated dynamic. It asks the Ancients to step aside to include the New World other into a larger narrative in which elite France carved out their nation's emerging cultural identity in relation to both the New World and the Ancient World.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0518-3
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. [i]-[vi])
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. [vii]-[viii])
  3. Introduction
    (pp. 1-28)

    Once upon a time, long before the birth of France, barbarians inhabited its land. These nomadic tribes, dwelling in forests and caves, were known as the Gauls. They dined on human flesh, or so Diodorus, the Greek historian of the first century B.C., recounted.¹ Then they washed down their feasts with wine or a drink they invented made out of barley, now known as beer.² Lacking any moderation, they became prey to their drunken cravings, and were driven to a state of near madness. But in their more sober moments, they aspired to some order and cleanliness: “They consistently use...

    • CHAPTER 1 The Quarrel Between the Ancients and the Moderns as a Colonial Battle: The Memory Wars over “Our Ancestors the Gauls”
      (pp. 31-53)

      What was the Quarrel between the Ancients and Moderns? When did it take place? Numerous scholars see it as a late seventeenth-century phenomenon that began in 1687 when all hell broke loose on the French Academy floor.¹ It was set off by a seemingly minor event at what was to be a standard Academy meeting. Charles Perrault had opened the session by reciting a poem he had written, “The Century of Louis the Great.” While Perrault was reading, Boileau kept muttering to himself and fidgeting in his seat, making wisecracks under his breath, much like Alceste in Molière’sLe misanthrope...

    • CHAPTER 2 The Return of the Submerged Story About France’s Colonized Past in the Quarrel over Imitation
      (pp. 54-72)

      Were the Greco-Romans an “us” or a “them”? This question was central to the memory war about how French history would be constructed, as we saw in Chapter 1. The ancients won this foundational conflict of the Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns, and thus French history was considered to have begun with the Romans as an “us” who helped civilize the Gauls. The effects of this memory war have been long lasting, because the nation’s dominant narrative aligned France with the Ancient Romans. In so doing, this narrative forced underground the competing alternative, which highlighted the nation’s colonized...

    • CHAPTER 3 Relating the New World Back to France: The Development of a New Genre, the Relations de Voyage
      (pp. 75-90)

      Because colonization has been excluded from the paradigm of France’s cultural self-understanding, one might reasonably conclude that the seventeenth-century French reading public was kept in the dark about its own policy of assimilation. Logically speaking, the nation’s colonial contact withsauvagesin the New World could have been kept entirely secret because it took place on the far side of the Atlantic. After all, as Marc Lescarbot put it in his 1609Histoire de la Nouvelle-France,the two nations were “separated ... by a sea so wide that men have apparently never had either the ability or the daring to...

    • CHAPTER 4 France’s Colonial History: From Sauvages into Civilized French Catholics
      (pp. 91-122)

      In 1613, barbarians arrived at the gates of France. But they were not there to break them down. They did not have to. They were invited guests. Louis XIII and the regent queen, Marie de Médecis, as well as the Capuchin Order, were their hosts.¹ These barbarians were Native American boys from the Tupinamba tribe in Brazil. Capuchin Father Claude d’Abbeville, Admiral François Razilly,² and Lieutenant General Ravadière had spent six months in Maragnan, Brazil, to expand “the empire of the Cross” and to establish a French colony. Now the members of this expedition were bringing the boys to France....

    • CHAPTER 5 Interweaving the Nation’s Colonial and Cultural Discourses
      (pp. 125-135)

      Boileau explicitly introduced the New Worldsauvagesinto the Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns. In his notorious showdown with Perrault on the French Academy floor in 1687 (recounted in Chapter 1), Boileau engaged in a shouting match so violent that he lost his voice. His silence, however, lasted only a brief moment. He made a stinging comeback by penning a pair of epigrams attacking those who dared suggest that France’s cultured elite could dispense with imitation and forge a new, independent route to greatness. He compared Perrault and the moderns to the Hurons and the Tupinambas of the...

    • CHAPTER 6 Imitation as a Civilizing Process or as a Voluntary Subjection?
      (pp. 136-172)

      To civilize what he termed “barbarians” in France, Cardinal Mazarin left money and instructions after his death in 1661 to establish the Collège des Quatre Nations. The barbarians he had in mind were the inhabitants of the nation’s newly acquired regions. Louis XIV had conquered four new territories on the kingdom’s furthermost boundaries in 1648 and 1659: (1) Flanders, Artois, Hainaut, and Luxembourg; (2) Alsace and other Germanic territories; (3) Roussillon, Confluent, and Cerdagne; and (4) Pignerol and the Papal States. The collège brought sixty adolescents from those annexed regions to Paris to civilize and assimilate them into the nation....

    • CHAPTER 7 Imitation and the “Classical” Path
      (pp. 173-198)

      This chapter examines a second escape route, which ultimately led to the ideal that scholars have labeled “classical.” This term, however, is misleading for three reasons.¹ First, it implies that this cultural ideal emerged only in relation to the Ancient World. Second, it assumes only one side of that relationship—kinship and similarity. Third, it implies that the nature of France’s relationship to the Ancient World was simply cultural, and not colonial. This chapter shows the limits of these assumptions by demonstrating how the classical ideal emerged out of the nation’s struggle to grapple with its colonial and cultural dilemmas...

    • CHAPTER 8 Using the Sauvage as a Lever to Decolonize France from the Ancients
      (pp. 199-220)

      In a Disneyland specialavant la lettre,the inhabitants of Rouen in 1550 imported “fifty naturalsauvages”¹ from Brazil to replicate an actual Brazilian village.² In a gesture that would have made Walt Disney proud, 250 French sailors were painted red to resemble the Tupinambas. But in a very un-Disney-esque touch, they were all completely naked, “without at all covering the part that nature requires.”³ These French replicas were “fashioned and equipped like Americansauvages”⁴ and supposedly resembled them so completely that they were indistinguishable. As one chronicler of this spectacle wrote, the French imitators “having frequently traveled to the...

  7. CONCLUSION. The Legacy of the Quarrel: The Colonial Fracture
    (pp. 221-230)

    The Quarrel between the Ancients and the Moderns has never been fully resolved. Its most fundamental tension continues to be replayed in some of the most recent debates over the writing of French history. In this concluding chapter, I briefly examine these debates in the light of the new paradigm I have offered in this book.

    To begin to examine the Quarrel’s legacy, I return to a question that I raised in the introductory chapter. There, I observed that the scholarship on early modern France’s assimilation of New Worldsauvageswas hardly new. More than a century ago, historians had...

  8. NOTES
    (pp. 231-282)
    (pp. 283-306)
  10. INDEX
    (pp. 307-318)
    (pp. 319-320)