Subversive freedom : libertine anthropology and the geography of knowledge in seventeenth-century France
Title: Subversive freedom : libertine anthropology and the geography of knowledge in seventeenth-century France
Author: VAN DAMME, Stéphane
Citation: Early modern French studies, 2015, Vol. 37, No. 2, pp. 108-125
ISSN: 2056-3035; 2056-3043
To understand how the idea of freedom operates in seventeenth-century France, and in libertine writing in particular, this article argues that it is important to take into account new social and spatial constraints that arose in the period, as well as the fictional figures of libertine travel writing. French libertine conceptions of freedom are then seen primarily as the reflection of a developing practice of mobility. To give substance to the hypothesis of a relationship between mobility, moral geography, and conceptions of freedom, the article contrasts two examples of attitudes to kinds of freedom in the French libertine world. The first example is that of French libertines themselves, and their relationship to the decline of liberty in France which took place in the aftermath of Theophile de Viau's trial. The second is centred on the banks of the Ganges and the experience of libertine travellers to India in the mid-seventeenth century. The suggestion is that libertine travelling culture modified its representations of freedom by introducing anthropological and comparative dimensions to the discourse.
Published online: 30 Mar 2016
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