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Two French Views of Monstrous Peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa

Two French Views of Monstrous Peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa


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Two French Views of Monstrous Peoples in Sub-Saharan Africa

Leskinen, Saara (Warburg Institute, University of London)

Renaissance and Reformation,Vol. 31, No. 2 (2008)

Abstract

In this paper I will examine the reasons why two French vernacular writers of the sixteenth century, André Thevet and François de Belleforest, denied that there were monstrous peoples in sub-Saharan Africa.

Les témoignages anciens et médiévaux de l’Afrique subsaharienne mentionnent un certain nombre de nations qui étaient soit physiquement extrêmement déformées, soit avaient des coutumes bizarres et inhumaines. Pendant la Renaissance, de tels récits avaient encore cours, bien que certains auteurs les aient remis en question et même rejetés. Cet article examine les raisons pour lesquelles les auteurs français André Thevet et François de Belleforest ont nié l’existence de telles nations. Les deux auteurs ont emprunté aux théories traditionnelles concernant ces nations monstrueuses, mais les ont adaptées à leur propre point de vue, illustrant ainsi la flexibilité avec laquelle les auteurs de la Renaissance sélectionnaient et interprétaient les savoirs qui leur étaient antérieurs.


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