Voyages et Avantures de Jaques Massé. Simon TYSSOT DE PATOT.
Voyages et Avantures de Jaques Massé.

Voyages et Avantures de Jaques Massé.

Bordeaux: chez Jacques l'Aveugle, 1710.

Duodecimo, with woodcut device on title; contemporary sprinkled calf.

The Australians are obsessed with mining

First edition (Rosenberg edition 'A'), of this important imaginary voyage to Australia: a 'landmark' in the development of the French voyage novel (Atkinson). Friederich comments that the importance of mining and irrigation to the Australians makes it the only work 'to foreshadow what has actually come to pass in modern Australia'.

First edition (Rosenberg edition 'A'), of this important imaginary voyage to Australia: a 'landmark' in the development of the French voyage novel (Atkinson). Friederich comments that the importance of mining and irrigation to the Australians makes it the only work 'to foreshadow what has actually come to pass in modern Australia'.

Tyssot de Patot was a well-known Huguenot free-thinker, whose writings were a continual source of scandal: Voltaire thought that he had 'carried the torch of discord into their homeland'. Certainly the antagonistically anti-religious stance of this novel created much ill-feeling. Atkinson comments that because 'open criticism of the Bible is so frequent' he will have to content himself with listing just a few of the more extreme examples.

Nonetheless, Atkinson's positive summary gives a good sense of the importance of the work: 'a close following of accounts of real travellers, such as Dellon, Tavernier, Mocquet, and Lahontan. There is nothing fantastic, unbelievable or overdrawn in the descriptions of the Austral continent… the realistic presentation of the story, in particular the detailed account of the adventurer's camp in the Austral continent, the building of a raft, and the descriptions of plants and trees, may be compared favourably to similar passages in the Robinson Crusoe of later date…'.

Massé shipwrecks on the Southern continent at '44 South latitude, almost at the point where Kerguelen Island will be found to be on modern maps' (Atkinson). Whilst most of the survivors of the wreck are content to maintain a large presence on the coast, Massé and his friend Moret travel inland where they settle in an enormous and well-organised utopia, 'a plentiful, fruitful country, a land of blessing and peace … where human blood is sacred and safe from the rage and tyranny of great men'. They become so enamoured of their Australian hosts that they abjure their faith and their European heritage, and it is only when Moret is betrayed by his liaison with a treacherous queen that they reluctantly flee, escaping rather fortuitously by a subterranean river which deposits them close by the original settlement. They remain besieged in the camp for another twelve years before they are finally picked up by a Portuguese ship.

The question of editions has been thoroughly investigated by Aubrey Rosenberg (Tyssot de Patot and his work 1655-1738, The Hague, 1972), in an attempt to clarify the four editions purporting to be published in 1710 (three by the same publisher). He argues that none of the four were published in 1710, and that this edition, with an armillary sphere device on the title with its base pointing to the left, was probably published between 1714 and 1717, and is the true first edition of the work. As Rosenberg points out, this research dispels the notion that after a flurry of editions, interest in Tyssot died out: in fact, the staggered publications argue a sustained interest in the work throughout the eighteenth century.

Provenance: James Hustler ("of Acklam in Cleveland in the North Riding of the Country of York Esq.", engraved armorial bookplate dated 1730); Bernard Gore Brett (Melbourne book collector).

Rosenberg, Edition 'A', p. 84-5.

Condition Report: Extremities slightly rubbed, rebacked, corners reinforced, a very good copy.

Price (AUD): $4,200.00

US$3,155.23   Other currencies

Ref: #3201143

Condition Report