Techniques de validation empirique des voyages imaginaires aux XVIIe-XVIIIe siècles


Abstract: The scientific Revolution of the 17th c. changed not only the cognitive paradigm of natural sciences, but also that global Weltanschauung of the European. “The spellbound thinking” of the Middle Ages and the Renaissance gave room to the new Cartesian science, a shift also noticeable in the field of literature, which brought about a crisis of criteria of fiction legitimacy and artistic validity. The empirical philosophy of Bacon, Hume, Hobbes implied that the pact for realistic reading be reworded and brand°new strategies and techniques be invented so as to create the sensation of verisimilitude and plausibility. Faced with the threat of being declassified to the category of producers of “lies” and of “fictions” (as it happened with the chivalry novels during the Renaissance), at the dawn of modern age the authors aligned their texts to the principles of empirical testing and practical certification postulated by the exact sciences. My work explores this process of re°legitimacy within the frames of travel literature; more precisely it aims to show in what way extraordinary journeys started to borrow the tactics and practices from the stories of genuine travels.

Keywords: littérature du XVIIe siècle, voyages imaginaires, pacte de lecture, David Hume, vérification empirique.