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By Michael Harrigan

Go back and forth narratives have been the primary resource of data in regards to the lands of the close to East and the Indian Ocean Basin in 17th-century France. Claiming the authority of first-hand commentary, they sarcastically count for his or her legitimization at the tropes of a longtime literary culture. The prestige of those texts remained ambiguous, no longer least as a result of their anecdotal depictions of serious riches, brutality or sexual promise. Drawing at the insights of post-colonial scholarship, this learn tackles a query given scant awareness in prior paintings and means that past the hazy illustration of the Orient, an competition emerges among the threatening close to East and the indolent East Indies. Distinguishing recognizable representations from these generated via new encounters, this booklet questions the feasibility of cultural illustration via go back and forth, exploring a wide corpus of unique resources written by means of French ecclesiastics, gentlemen-travellers, ambassadors and adventurers. Linguistic, spiritual, cultural or geographical limitations intended so much visitors remained distanced from the peoples on which they might at the same time develop into authoritative. The come across used to be additional remodeled in narratives that have been meant to entertain and to meet the criterion of curiosité. The ‘Oriental’ that emerges is a supremely variable entity, alternately bare or veiled, barbaric or civilized, menacing or appealing

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263-278 (p. 265). , p. 265. 96 Clifford Geertz, The Interpretation of Cultures, p. 35. 42 Veiled Encounters 17th-century travellers to describe and convey the essence of entire peoples. It was for long believed that cultures evolve in linear patterns, and therefore that some (one’s own among them, if a western observer) were more evolved than others, and cultural relativism clearly challenges this. The comparison of cultural manifestations in one society with those of another – a hallmark of comparative anthropology and a consequence of the evolutionist approach – will be demonstrated to have been a frequent phenomenon long before the 19th century.

78 The principal reason for this choice was that Tavernier both ignores the events of the voyage and had to rely on third party testimony of the inaccessible seraglio, in contrast with his and other voyages to the East. On the other hand, while Souchu’s Histoire is in large part an account of the French colonization of Madagascar, it includes the geographical displacement of the journey, and is based – or it is claimed to have been based – on first-hand testimony, or what was believed to be first-hand testimony.

Many oriental traits are perceived as being widely distributed through diverse eastern populations, and curiously transmissible to their descendants, or even to Europeans. Worthy of focus is the case of Madagascar, which lies on the spice trade route, yet is an African island subject to numerous ‘oriental’ attributions in the mid-17thcentury flurry of colonial activity. Chapter 5 analyzes manifestations of the histoires and anecdotes which were repeatedly inserted into récits de voyage which supposedly represented fact on both the Near East and the East Indies.

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