Alfred North-Coombes

The vindication of François Leguat : a comprehensive appraisal of Leguat's natural history observations in the Island of Rodrigues, Indian Ocean (1708)

Société de l'histoire de l'Ile Maurice

Port Louis, 1979
bibliothèque insulaire
   
utopies insulaires
édité dans l'océan Indien
Maurice, Rodrigues, Chagos, …
The vindication of François Leguat : a comprehensive appraisal of Leguat's natural history observations in the Island of Rodrigues, Indian ocean (1708) and a thorough refutation of his detractors from Buffon and Cuvier to the late Professor Geoffroy Atkinson and his supporters / Alfred North-Coombes. - Port-Louis (Maurice) : Société de l'histoire de l'Ile Maurice, 1979. - XXXVII-254 p.-[13] f. de pl. ; 21 cm.
NOTE DE L'ÉDITEUR : (…)

In 1974 [Alfred North-Coombes] sought admission to Monash University [Australia] in order to write a Ph. D. thesis in vindication of the French seventeenth-century huguenot exile and traveller, François Leguat, whose famous book Voyage & avantures (1708) has been a subject of controversy for 270 years.

The author is well equipped for this task, combining mature judgement with a scientific background, fluency in French and an intimate knowledge of the Mascarene Islands and their history.

In this book will be found the proof that Geoffroy Atkinson's theory on Leguat in The Extraordinary Voyage in French Literature is a literary fraud. It refutes all Leguat's critics from Chinard, Ascoli and Pons to Swaen and Stresemann, Gove and Adams, and shows that even an immortal like Cuvier grossly misjudged the naturalist in the man.

The book has been described as a masterly exposition and a fascinating detective story.

L'étude d'Alfred North-Coombes  — « la plus récente et la meilleure des monographies consacrées au Voyage de François Leguat » 1 — a mis un terme définitif à un débat récurrent en établissant au prix d'une enquête minutieuse l'authenticité de ce qui était jusqu'alors tenu, par la critique universitaire, pour un « roman utopique ».

1.Jean-Michel Racault, dans son introduction aux « Aventures aux Mascareignes », Paris : La Découverte, 1984
CONTENTS Preface
Acknowledgements
Chronology (1510-1968)
Synopsis of chapters
Introduction
  • The Mascarene Islands
  • A Great Adventure
  • Leguat at Batavia and the Cape
  • Accounts of 18th-Century Visitors and Cuvier's Error
  • Sensational Bone Discoveries in Mauritius and Rodrigues
  • Nineteenth-Century Scientific Studies
  • Birth, Progress and End of a Career
  • The Author — Leguat, not Misson !
  • A Severe Indictment
  • The Attack on Sauzier and Oliver
  • Mystification by Means of Footnotes
  • The Mutilation of Leguat's Masterpiece
  • The Art of Deception
  • A Monumental Fraud Exposed
  • The Trees too Tell their Tale
  • A Survey of Leguat Studies, 1923-1976
  • Epilogue
APPENDICES
  • References to Leguat or his Book in General and Scientific Literature (1707-1976)
  • Cauche's description of the Dodo and Partridges
  • Description of the Solitaire by Du Quesne and Tafforet
Bibliography
Names of persons in the text and footnotes
Illustrations
Maps
COMPLÉMENT BIBLIOGRAPHIQUE
  • « The vindication of François Leguat, first resident and historian of Rodrigues (1691-1693) », Rose Hill (Maurice) : Ed. de l'océan Indien, 1991
  • Nicolas Cavaillès, « Vie de monsieur Leguat », Paris : Ed. du Sonneur, 2013

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