Ostium 14 (2) (2018)

Abstract
Rétif de La Bretonne is well known as an erotic writer, but he also imagined strange and exotic worlds as in The Austral Discovery by a Flying Man, first published in 1781. The novel could be seen as a pa- rody of travel books, surprising the reader with unbelievable semi-human animals. It could also be a humoristic rewriting of Buffon’s Natural History. But Rétif seems to be serious: not only human beings should take care of all the species of human-animals, but they must teach them elements of sciences and morals, before employing them to organize a pacific and well-governed colonial Empire. It is quite obvious that for Rétif, animality helps humanity to reach its perfection. The virtues of birds and monkeys are particularly important to improve heroes’ abilities. Furthermore, the author himself seeks in animals his own prophetic identity.
Keywords Rétif de La Bretonne   The Austral Discovery   evolution   human species   human-beast   perfectibility   bird   monkey   representation of the writer   colonialism
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