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MÈmoires de Gaudence de Luques
Amsterdam,: n.p.,, 1753.. Four volumes in two, octavo; with all four titles and half-titles, each volume with an engraved plate as well as an engraved headpiece vignette at start of text; contemporary French mottled calf, head of spines chipped but an attractive set. The second French edition, with four wonderful engravings and four vignettes by Fessard, and the first illustrated edition in any language. An earlier French translation, by Miltz and de Saint-Germain, was published in 1746, and it was not until 1753 that this edition came out, newly revised and extended by the prominent eighteenth-century man-of-letters, Jean-Baptiste Dupuy-Demportes (d. 1770). Although it pretends to derive from an Italian source, the Memoirs was created by an Englishman. The text was sometimes thought to be the work of Bishop Berkeley, but became correctly attributed to Berington during the nineteenth century.As the title suggests, the work takes the form of a trial transcript, with questioning from various inquisitors and a learned commentary from one Signor Rhedi. The protagonist Gaudentio, hauled in front of the Inquisition, describes Mezzorania in Africa, a city which has been cut off from external contact for over three thousand years. His first impression of the principal city of Phor is of an 'immense Garden', but his more detailed analysis shows a city which owes much to the solar model earlier proposed by Campanella in Citt? del Sole. Less regulated than many other utopias, the citizens have a system based on the precept 'Thou shalt do no wrong to anyone'. Unusually for the strict utopia, long-term relationships based on love are actively encouraged; indeed, Gaudentio talks at length about his own relationship with a Mezzoranian woman. It is this emotional engagement which leads Rees to see in the Memoirs an unusually novelistic utopia, and thus a work which avoids some of the neatness and simplifications of others in the genre.Ellison, in an article devoted to this 'forgotten utopia' and its authorship, comments that 'Berington can stand upon his own merits, and the early appraisal of the work which saw in it the reflection of a wise, humane, and generous spirit does not have to be seriously discounted.' ('Gaudentio Di Lucca: A Forgotten Utopia', PMLA, 1935). Similarly, Gove happily approves Dunlop classing the work with Gulliver's Travels and Robinson Crusoe.Gibson, 'St. Thomas More... with a Bibliography of Utopiana', 623.
      [Bookseller: Hordern House Rare Books]
Last Found On: 2013-07-21           Check availability:      Biblio    

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