500 Years of Brazil
Divisão de Bibliotecas e Documentação

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The Works

LÉRY, Jean de. Histoire d'un voyage faict en la terre du     Bresil: autrement dite Amerique. Avec les figures, reveve,     corrigee & bien augmentee de discours notables, en     ceste troisieme edition. [Geneve, Suiça]: Pour Antoine     Chuppin, 1585.

In l555, under the command of Vice-Admiral Nicolau Durand de Villegaignon, the French set up fort on the islands of Laje and Sirigipe inside the bay of Guanabara, with the intention of starting the colony of Antarctic France. Of that colonising experience marked by struggles between Catholics and Huguenots (French Calvinists) and by the relations between the French and the Tupinambás, Calvinist Jean de Léry left an interesting account in his Histoire d’un voyage fait en la terre du Brésil, published in 1578.

Jean de Léry's text is primarily an answer to the Franciscan André Thevet, which attributed the failure of that colonising experiment to the dissension caused by the Calvinists. But it is also the way that Léry found to praise the Lord, whose Power was confirmed in the natural beauty and variety that made up the New World, besides being a sort of account of an "initiatory journey" whereby the discovery of the other arouses a sense of one's own strangeness.  

On "lending expression" to the natives by means of a figure of rhetoric, Léry places in relief not only the characteristics of the way of life of those that were identified as "savages" but also and especially the distinctive features of his own society, one so deeply rent by the "Wars of Religion".