Orientaliana et Vasconiana: l’anecdote ethnographique en France à la fin de XVIIe et au début de XVIIIe siècle
The article examines two French books written at the turn of the 17th and 18th centuries. The first book is “Les Paroles remarquables, les bons mots et les maximes des Orientaux” (1694; after its second edition in 1701, it is known as Orientaliana), compiled by A. Galland, a renowned French Orientalist, translator of The Thousand and One Nights. The second one, “Vasconiana, ou Recueil des bons mots, des pensées les plus plaisantes, et des rencontres les plus vives des Gascons” (1708) belongs to the pen of F. De Salvat (sieur de Montfort). Both texts contain witty remarks and anecdotic narratives and share a similar “generalizing” strategy in their representation of exotic ethnographic material. Both put forward general reflections applicable to the entire humankind instead of focusing on the “local color.” Both texts present a stark contrast to their predecessors — books with the titles made with the help of adding ana, a latin suffix of appurtenance (e.g. “Scaligerana”, “Perroniana”, “Thuana,” etc.). Those were collections of aphorisms pronounced by old and eminent scholars and statesmen. Instead, Orientaliana and Vasconiana were addressed to a “well-mannered person,” l’honnête homme who would fish for the witticisms in the books that he could use in the salon. The essay argues that such changes in target groups were due to the appearance of scientific periodicals in France at the end of the 17th century.