UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Baron de Lahontan Allan, Peter


This study on the Baron de Lahontan endeavours to present an up-to-date account of his life, the highlights of his literary achievements and studies the fortunes and influence his works enjoyed during the eighteenth century. An attempt has also been made to present evidence identifying Lahontan as an important precursor of the philosophe movement in eighteenth-century France. Almost all of the biographical information available on Lahontan is found only in his own writings, and this study has consequently drawn heavily on his original volumes, published in 1703. The Lahontan bibliography, published in 1905 by Paltsits, along with its subsequent recension in 1954 by Greenly, remains the principal bibliographical source available. A definitive bibliography of Lahontan is not yet fully established, however. The recent discovery of several unpublished manuscripts by Lahontan suggests that more may yet come to light. No attempt has been made in this study to discuss Lahontan's role as an historian or geographer, although it has become evident that some of the more important eighteenth-century chroniclers used his works as a source of information for their own accounts of New France. Finally, this study endeavours to confirm Lahontan's role as a precursor of the philosophe movement in France and it examines the extent to which the great writers of that period may have drawn on his observations. Although there is considerable evidence in support of the claim that Lahontan probably influenced such great figures as Montesquieu, Voltaire, Diderot, and Rousseau, it would be erroneous to assume too much in this regard. It is more the less certain, however, that Lahontan's writings did constitute an essential contribution to the diffusion of philosophical ideas at the beginning of the eighteenth century.

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