Historia navigationis in Brasiliam, qae et America Dicitur...
LERY, Jean (1586)
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First Latin edition. Seven full-page woodcuts in the text, and a folding plate. Small 8vo. Later wrappers. Geneva, Vignon,
This is an un-expurgated edition, translated from the French by Lery himself, which contains material concerning the conflict between Catholics and Protestants in Villegagnon's fledgling colony in Rio, included first in the second edition (1580) and ethnographic material (especially reagarding native music) which was not included until the third edition of 1585.
Lery's Histoire is one of the earliest eye-witness accounts of the New World, in particular of Villegagon's ill-fated expedition to found a French colonly in Brazil in 1555/6. Lery though is concerned with painting a broad picture of Brazil, the Indian population, their customs, language etc. He was a Calvinist and did not view the Tupinamba Indians as potential converts, but as irredeemable sons of Ham, this gave him a particularly detached view of his subjects almost that of a modern social scientist. Indeed Levi Strauss calls the Histoire "the breviary of the anthropologist". He also takes pains to demonstrate the inaccuracy of the only other version of events that of the catholic friar Thevet, whose Singulaitez de la France Antarctique was hitherto the only available record of events. Despite his aversion to Thevet at least one of the remarkable illustrations owes something to one of Thevet's woodcuts.
"Of all the many travel narratives of the sixteenth century Jean de Lery's Histoire d'un Voyage fait en la terre de Bresil contains the most sensitive and detailed account we have of a Native America people before prolonged contact with Europeans had radically changed their culture." Anthony Pagdem (Man Vol 29 No 1).
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