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Far-Fetched FactsThe Literature of Travel and the Idea of the South Seas$
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Neil Rennie

Print publication date: 1998

Print ISBN-13: 9780198186274

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198186274.001.0001

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Aotourou and Omai

Aotourou and Omai

(p.109) 5 Aotourou and Omai
Far-Fetched Facts

Neil Rennie

Oxford University Press

Louis-Antoine Bougainville reached Saint–Malo on March 16, 1769, and was soon with Aotourou in Paris, France. More than a year before the publication of Bougainville's Voyage, the tale of Tahiti was being told. In Voyage, Bougainville narrated that Aotourou's great passion in Paris was for the opera, that he was very fond of Voltaire's correspondent, the Duchesse de Choiseul, and that his knowledge of French was elementary. But even if Aotourou could not manage ca da fa ga sa za, there were others who would speak for him, and to understand why they said what they did it is necessary to turn from the reality of Aotourou to the theory of ‘l' Homme Sauvage’. This chapter examines in particular the ruminations of Jean-Jacques Rousseau at Saint-Germain in November 1754, focusing on his revolution: to place natural man in a state of nature which was not simply the culture of savages, but ideally natural, and therefore pre-cultural, prehistorical, and — inevitably — hypothetical. This chapter also looks at the story of Omai.

Keywords:   Louis-Antoine Bougainville, Aotourou, France, Tahiti, Omai, Jean-Jacques Rosseau, natural man, savages

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