André Thevet's North America: A Sixteenth-Century View

André Thevet's North America: A Sixteenth-Century View

André Thevet's North America: A Sixteenth-Century View

André Thevet's North America: A Sixteenth-Century View

Synopsis

Andre Thevet was one of the most widely travelled Frenchmen of the sixteenth century, visiting almost all the main countries and regions of western Europe, the Near East, and Brazil. He served four consecutive French kings, beginning with Henry II, as Royal Cosmographer and garde des singularitez. As cosmographer, he wrote three major books dealing with the discovery and subsequent exploration of the New World: Les Singularitez de la France antarctique (1556), La Cosmographie universelle (1575), and the Grand Insulaire (unpublished, 1586). Although the portions of these works devoted to South America have received considerable attention from scholars, Thevet's work on North America has remained inaccessible to students of the Age of Discovery. Professors Schlesinger and Stabler have now added Thevet to the list of enjoyable books by early European explorers of North America.

Excerpt

The main purpose of this book is to present an annotated edition- translation of the North American portions of the work of André Thevet (1504-1592), the Royal Cosmographer of France during the second half of the sixteenth century. in a sense, then, it is intended to complement the excellent editions and studies of Thevet's writing on South America, and especially Brazil, by Suzanne Lussagnet and Frank Lestringant. the need for an edition-translation such as this was clearly recognized early in this century by William F. Ganong, and more recently by Bernard G. Hoffman. the latter, together with Marcel Trudel and the late Samuel Eliot Morison, personally encouraged the authors to undertake this task and supported our efforts to obtain funding for the project from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Scholars have had difficulty in gaining access to Thevet's materials on North America. His only complete work involving this area to be edited is the Singularitez de la France antarctique (see Bibliography). An English translation (with no annotations and a number of errors) was made by Thomas Hacket in 1568. Thevet's second major work containing North American material, the Cosmographie universelle (1575), has never been translated or annotated, while the third text presented here, the Grand Insulaire, has remained in almost illegible manuscript and presents many problems of sixteenth-century French vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. Since the original of this work has not been published, except for a few brief extracts, we include here the French text of the Canadian section of the Grand Insulaire, which appears to have the most interesting and original material. in addition, we have collated the relevant portions of three other Thevet manuscripts which are for the most part extracts of earlier works: the Histoire de deux voyages, Second Voyage d'André Thevet . . .

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