The Utopian Religions of Foigny and Veiras
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Between the Considération sur la religion of Saint-Evremond in about 1670 and his Lettre à Justel in 1683, and against the same background of tension between Catholics and Protestants, two works appeared which are always linked in the history of French religious ideas: Gabriel Foigny’s La Terre australe connue and Denis Veiras’ Histoire des Sévarambes.1 They came out almost simultaneously, Foigny’s book in 1676, in Geneva, and Veiras’ in 1677–1679 in Paris, having been published partially in England in 1675;2 both are Utopian travel-stories narrating voyages to the ‘Austral Land’, the name for a huge land-mass known to exist but as yet unexplored. Both too, in different ways, illustrate further themes already found in Saint-Evremond. Foigny’s curious hero, Sadeur, is more tempted than Saint-Evremond by rational religion (the portrayal of which makes his story of great interest for the history of deism), but finally prefers Catholic faith. Veiras, the more able and influential writer, develops in considerable detail an idea which is close to the surface in the Lettre à Justel, that doctrinal freedom can be accommodated within a state religion based on community rituals.
KeywordsChristian Faith Christian Church Christian Belief Christian Doctrine State Religion
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