Site de Benoît Melançon / Thèses canadiennes en littérature française du XVIIIe siècle

Bouchard, Emmanuel, «Édition critique des Avantures de Monsieur Robert Chevalier, dit de Beauchêne d’Alain-René Lesage, précédée d’un commentaire», Montréal, Université de Montréal, thèse de doctorat, juillet 2006, 2 vol., xi/663 p. Dir. : Benoît Melançon.

The most important of Alain-René Lesage’s (1668-1747) novels have been commented on by many critics and editors, but les Avantures de Monsieur Robert Chevalier, dit de Beauchêne remains unknown to most literary scholars, even though it has been published many times (at least eight in the eighteenth century and about ten in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries) and translated into English, Italian and Dutch. Most of those editions present the text without any commentaries or annotations, in questionable versions. Critics have pointed to the need to do serious editorial work on Lesage’s novel; this was our project.

Our first goal is to offer a reliable version of les Avantures de Monsieur Robert Chevalier, dit de Beauchêne. For this purpose, we use the 1732 original edition although there are many mistakes in it. We rectify them by using both editions of 1733, which give numerous useful emendations. There are few other editorial interventions.

The annotation is also meant to facilitate the reading of the novel. To make the text easier to understand for the twenty-first century reader, we provide historical and ethnographical information, and we define the sources of some parts of the text and point to their connexions with contemporary literary texts. For the section of the novel which takes place in America, we investigate the historical works, the travel accounts, and the official documents that help understand the novel. We also add a glossary, as well as biographical and geographical notes. The appendices contain some biographical facts and a complementary document by Lesage throwing light on the genesis of the Avantures.

Our commentary replaces Lesage’s novel in its context. We describe the novel’s history and editions, particularly its reception since the eigthteenth century. We also study the role of irony in the novel.

Keywords: Novel • Travel Relation • XVIIIth Century • Lesage • New France • Buccaneers • Irony

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