Reading Jesuit <i>Voyages</i>

in Sojourners in a Strange Land

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780226355597
Published online March 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226355610 | DOI:
Reading Jesuit Voyages

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Of the various audiences that the Voyage de Siam was meant to please, the book's royal dedicatee, at least, seems to have been well satisfied with its account of his newly commissioned mathématiciens du roi. Within a few months of its publication, a second cohort departed France under Guy Tachard's leadership. The opening pages of the Second voyage du pere Tachard et des jesuïtes envoyés par le roy, au royaume de Siam (1689) read like a reprise of the preparations for the 1685 expedition. Fourteen Jesuits were summoned to Paris, there to confer with members of the Académie des sciences in order to “render themselves more capable of making good observations.” For a sense of how differential distribution of the Académie's printed voyages affected responses to the Voyage de Siam, this chapter considers Christiaan Huygens's and Edmond Halley's respective reactions to the longitude of the Cape of Good Hope as concluded by Tachard and his confreres. Reader response to Tachard's publication was primarily mediated by the literary genre to which it so obviously belonged: the early modern European travelogue.

Keywords: Voyage de Siam; France; Guy Tachard; Jesuits; Académie des sciences; voyages; travelogue; Christiaan Huygens; Edmond Halley; expedition

Chapter.  6264 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: History of Science and Technology

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