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É/change / Ex/change

Transitions et transactions dans la littérature française / Transitions and Transactions in French Literature

Manuel Bragança and Steven Wilson

Alors que les notions d’échange et de changement sont l’objet d’études fréquentes dans les domaines économiques, linguistiques ou encore anthropologiques, elles ne sont que rarement prises en compte per se dans le domaine littéraire. En insistant sur les ambiguïtés, les chevauchements et les interactions entre ces deux thèmes dans la littérature française de l’époque médiévale à nos jours, ce recueil d’articles démontre leur porosité et leur instabilité. Le terme ‘é/change’ – écrit avec une barre oblique – entend souligner ainsi la tension inhérente à la littérature française que révèle ce volume issu d’une conférence qui s’est tenue à Queen’s University Belfast en Mai 2008 sur ce même thème.
Whereas the notions of exchange and change are often the subject of enquiry in the context of financial, linguistic or anthropological discourses, they are rarely analysed for the essential role they play in the literary domain. By exploring the ways in which change and exchange interact in French literature from the medieval period to the present day, this volume explores their fluidity and instability. Drawing on a number of conference papers presented at Queen’s University Belfast in May 2008 on the theme of ex/change – a term that deliberately draws attention to the tension between these notions – the essays presented here shed new light on a neglected but underlying theme in French literature.

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III. L’Échange raté -131

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III. L’Échange raté Noelle McCavana How Not to Inf luence a Non-Inf luential Friend: Epistolary Exchanges between Bernardin de Saint-Pierre and Pierre-Michel Hennin In early 1773, Bernardin de Saint-Pierre published Voyage à l’Île de France, the record of his travels and of his time as a government engineer on the island now known as Mauritius. The Voyage had some small success, but Saint-Pierre made very little money from it and, as he had no personal for- tune or financial reserves, he needed an income in order to survive in Paris. As an ex-army engineer, he was convinced that he was entitled to a pension and he also made several attempts to interest the authorities in schemes for the founding of communities overseas. However, the Seven Years’ War had stripped France of many of her overseas possessions and the ruinous costs of a major war had left the cof fers empty. Showing remarkable patience and tenacity, Saint-Pierre wrote letters to the government several times a year on his return home to France, especially to the Ministère de la Marine, the department which dealt with colonial af fairs and the of fice responsible for his posting to the Indian Ocean.1 He included the customary compliments and stressed his service to the crown as he submitted projects for of ficial consideration, including to the minister, Turgot, to whom he presented 1 Edgar Faure explains its remit: ‘Au XVIIIe siècle, le secrétariat à la marine dirige les colonies et le commerce...

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