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The Idea of Europe

Catriona Seth
Rotraud von Kulessa

34. Colonial Europe

Texte intégral

1Marie Leprince de Beaumont (1711–1780?)i was a novelist, a journalist and a pedagogue. She wrote educational dialogues like the Magasin des enfants or Young Misses’ Magazine (1756) and the Magasin des adolescents or Young Ladies’ Magazine (1760) which suggested wide-ranging teaching models for girls, extending to the study of religion, of biology, of physics, of history, of law, of philosophy and so on. In this geography lesson about America, the governess, Mrs Affable, addressing herself to young pupils, is implicitly denouncing European colonialism and defending cultural relativity.

Miss Sophie

2Mrs Affable, I have heard there are tribes which kill their fathers once they are old, and then eat them. Is that true?

Mrs Affable

3The Iroquois people who live in North America used to do so, but now they no longer do. Children, do not think they did this out of unkindness. Quite the opposite: When the Europeans came to their land and they found out that we let old people continue living and then bury them, they judged us to be very cruel. How barbarous, they said, to let those who gave us life suffer, and then to throw them into a hole in the ground where they are eaten by worms. We have much more love for our parents, they added: we spare them the discomforts of extreme old age and we give them our stomach as their tomb.

4Marie Leprince de Beaumont, The Young Ladies’ Magazine, or Dialogues Between a Discreet Governess and Several Young Ladies of the First Rank Under Her Educationii (1760).

Read the free text in the original language (1760 edition):​ark:/12148/​bpt6k5773041g
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