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Lahontan and Gueudeville: Natural Religion from Canada

  • C. J. Betts
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Part of the Archives Internationales d’Histoire des Idees / International Archives of the History of Ideas book series (ARCH, volume 104)

Abstract

The real successors to Gilbert’s rational deism are the manuscript treatises, the Examen de la religion and Difficultés sur la religion, but chronologically they are preceded by another dialogue between the religious representatives of Europe and a distant country, in this case Canada, or New France. In order to compose the Histoire de Calejava, Gilbert had devised a Utopian setting for an indigenous French form of natural religion, based on Cartesian rationalism. Lahontan reversed the process: he observed a real primitive religion in the New World and, apparently with some help from an ex-Benedictine named Gueudeville, transformed it into a conventional natural religion including some criticisms of French Catholicism. In the resultant work, known now as the Dialogues curieux, Lahontan discusses religion and other matters with a Red Indian chieftain, ‘Adario’, the spokesman for a simple deistic religion which is not merely a theoretical construction. Adario comes from the tribes in Canada among whom Lahontan had lived and whom the missionaries were trying to convert. His views in the Dialogues are a compromise between a descriptive report of Red Indian belief and the abstract idea of natural religion which had long been current in French thought.

Keywords

Distant Country Natural Religion Free Love Religious Representative French Thought 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

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References

  1. Baron de Lahontan, Dialogues curieux entre I’auteur et un sauvage de bon sens qui a voyage et Memoires de l’Amerique septentrionale, edited by Gilbert Chinard (Baltimore, 1931 )Google Scholar
  2. Jean Le Clerc, (Bibliotheque ancinne et moderne 22 (1724), Pt. I, p. 221Google Scholar
  3. Aubrey Rosenberg, Nicolas Gueudeville and his work (1652-1722) (The Hague, 1982), pp. 123-130Google Scholar
  4. Chinard, Introduction, pp. 47ff., referring to Charlevoix’s Histoire de la Nouvelle France, 1744.Google Scholar
  5. Maurice Roelens, ‘Lahontan dans l’Encyclopedie et ses suites’, Recherches nouvelles sur quelques ecrivains des Lumieres, edited by Jacques Proust (Geneva, 1972 )Google Scholar
  6. William R. Jones, in his edition of L’Ingenu (Geneva, 1957), p. 36Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Martinus Nijhoff Publishers, The Hague 1984

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  • C. J. Betts

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