Le pasteur Charles de Rochefort et l’“Histoire naturelle et morale des îles Antilles de l’Amérique”

Abstract : In 1658, the pastor Charles de Rochefort (ca 1604-1683) publishes his “Histoire naturelle et morale des îles Antilles de l’Amérique” anonymously in Rotterdam. This work rapidly achieves a measure of success throughout Europe. Translated into Dutch, English and German, often re-edited, this book remains a reference for all readers curious about the history of the Antilles up to the end of the 18th century. Scat-tered references to it among philosophers, naturalists and ethnographers of the Enlightenment testify to that. Nowadays, the value accorded to this soure contrasts strongly with the reception it was awarded by the lettered public of the 17th and 18th century. Even the comprehension of the text has become problematic. The author and his project remain basically ill-known, if not controversial. The text, which has yet to appear in a critical edition, remains difficult to access. Taken in its entirety, the work contains a great deal of variance and even contradictions that perhaps test the patience of the reader and often result in false or partial interpretations. In the light of unpublished source material, notably Dutch ones, and a critical reappraisal of well-known texts, this contribution attempts to shed light on the difficulties of understanding a source that lies at the heart of the Antillean corpus. It will be about seeing who Rochefort is, where he travels and what role the Caribbean experience plays therein. Thus, we will observe the author of the Histoire at work, tied up with the construction of his books and the revision of his text, before unravelling the mechanisms of his process. Finally, we will dedicate our-selves to analysing a selection of the sources that relate to the Caribbean Amerindians.
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Benoît Roux. Le pasteur Charles de Rochefort et l’“Histoire naturelle et morale des îles Antilles de l’Amérique”. Cahiers d'Histoire de l'Amérique Coloniale, L'Harmattan, 2011, Les Indiens des Petites Antilles. Des premiers peuplements aux débuts de la colonisation européenne, 5, pp.175-216. ⟨hal-01598006⟩

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