Samhällsvetenskapliga fakulteten

Georges Guillet de Saint Georges’ Fanciful Travels in Ottoman Greece: The Mixing of Truth and Fiction in Travel Accounts to the Orient

  • Datum: 30 november, kl. 13.15–15.00
  • Plats: Engelska parken 6-0022 OBS! Dag och sal!
  • Föreläsare: David CHATAIGNIER
  • Arrangör: Seminariet för romansk litteraturvetenskap
  • Kontaktperson: Sylviane Robardey-Eppstein
  • Seminarium

GÄSTFÖRELÄSNING
(i samarbete med Litteraturvetenskapliga institutionen)
David CHATAIGNIER (docteur en Littérature et civilisation françaises, universitetslärare,
Åbo Akademi)
Georges Guillet de Saint Georges’ Fanciful Travels in Ottoman Greece: The
Mixing of Truth and Fiction in Travel Accounts to the Orient

In this seminar, I will discuss a successful travel account writer of the last third of the seventeenth century. George Guillet de Saint George, a self-educated scholar, published two travel accounts of the Orient in 1675 and 1676. Athènes and Lacédémone ancienne et nouvelle recount in two parts the whereabouts of Guillet’s brother, a soldier who, after being released from slavery in Northern Africa, had travelled through Ottoman Grece. As a pilgrim who travels back to the roots of his civilization, this man with a keen interest in classical culture describes the places and lands he journeys through as a specialist. Beyond enthusiasm, the list of monuments and ruins discovered regularly leads to lamentations over the decline of modern Greece. But present times are also made of action, and in various passages, the account becomes epic: the author recounts his arrival at the Ottoman army camp in Candia and his involvement, disguised as a Janissary, in the fighting against the Venetians. Although fascinating and exciting, the publication recounting the first part of this voyage became controversial. Jacob Spon violently critiziced Guillet and questioned the authorship of the text along with the veracity of any travel done in the Orient. According to Spon, numerous mistakes and inaccuracies in the descriptions proved that neither Guillet nor his “would-be” brother had ever been in Greece. Spon claimed the account was fanciful and that the bother did not really exist. The quarrel was heated and lasted several years. My presentation will address this quarrel over authenticity and describe its development. I will focus on the mixing of truth and fiction and on the status of lie and truth in the debate surrounding this travel account, taking examples from other works in order to broaden the discussion.