Reviews by Joseph Scalice

Aventures d'un Gentilhomme Breton aux iles Philippines

by Paul de la Gironiere

For historians, Gironiere’s writings are prickly, problematic sources. Of all the travel narratives written in the Philippines in the nineteenth century, his account was based on the most time spent there. Gironiere lived in the rural Philippines for twenty years from 1819 to 1839, the owner of a plantation on a Laguna peninsula known as Jalajala. His work is regarded as an excellent source on the cholera epidemic of 1820 and the massacre of the French residents, who were blamed by indios for the outbreak. The cholera riots provoked fears of revolution among the Spanish authorities in the wake of events in Mexico. As Gironiere is a source of much unique information, it is necessary to investigate his credibility.

Gironiere claims in the preface to his work that he was inspired to write his own version of events when he read a feuilleton by Alexandre Dumas Père in Le Constitutionelle. This feuilleton was subsequently published as Les Mille et un Fantomes. Dumas’ novel was a mélange of material: several lengthy and unconnected narratives, a memoir of one of Dumas’ recently deceased friends, and a story entitled Les marriages de pere Olifus. Les marriages told of M. Olifus, who, pursued by his mermaid wife, journeys to Bidondo (sic) and meets a Chinese woman, Vanly Tching, whom he marries. He then travels to Halahala (sic) where he converses with M. de la Geronniere (sic).

In the late 1840’s Gironiere had been holding forth in the salons of Nantes, regaling audiences with his tales of adventure in the Philippines and word of his stories reached the intellectually omnivorous Dumas. Stories of banditry were regarded as romantic and were wildly popular in Europe in the mid-nineteenth century, and Gironiere told many bandit stories. Stumbling upon himself as a character in Le Constitutionelle, Gironiere wrote to Dumas and offered to sell his own story for publication in Dumas’ new journal, Le Mousquetaire.

Europe had just been rocked by a series of working class revolutions and their bloody suppression by governments. A marked shift occured in Dumas’ writing. An author who previously wrote romanticized yet trenchantly political stories, in historical settings which were but lightly fictionalized, Dumas now wrote a volume of fantasy with ghosts and mermaids and a journey to the exotic orient. The culmination of this journey into unreality is the encounter with ‘Geronniere.’

The revolutions of 1848-49 saw the rise of realism in art; for Dumas, they marked a flight from reality. His later work served as the inspiration for Hoffmann’s Nutcracker. There was nothing innocent in this literary choice by Dumas; he dedicated Les Milles et un Fantomes to the Orleans dynasty.

Thus, Dumas made a shift in his writing to fantasy and Gironiere’s salon fabrications provided the content of that fantasy for him. Gironiere’s work told how he single-handedly stopped a war, visited cannibals and headhunters and ate brains with them, and, above all, how he constantly encountered, captured, and conversed with bandits.

While Gironiere was waiting for his stories to be published in Le Mousquetaire, he tried getting them published elsewhere. He published his adventures as Vingt Années in 1853. He revised this slightly and republished it as L’ Aventures d’un Breton in 1855, adding an appendix.

Much additional information on Gironiere and his role in Philippine historiography is available at josephscalice.com

Reviewed on 2010.04.21

more reviews ->

(advanced)
login | register

User ID

Password

reset password

Help ManyBooks by sharing this page!

See it as donating a moment of your social media time, every little thing helps us improve and stay online.

Featured Books

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

The Titan Drowns: Time Travel Romance

New Atlantis Time Travel Romance Book 6
Nhys Glover

2013 SFR GALAXY AWARD WINNER

"Heroism and... Read more

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

Helga: Out of Hedgelands

Wood Cow Chronicles Book 1
Rick Johnson

VOLUME ONE in the WOOD COW CHRONICLES series. <... Read more

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

Valkyrie's Vengeance

Loki's Wolves Book 0
Melissa Snark

Fans of paranormal and urban fantasy will enjoy... Read more

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

Mademoiselle At Arms

A Georgian Romance
Elizabeth Bailey

Set in the late Georgian era, Elizabeth Bailey’... Read more

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

Chausiku

Nightmare of the Clans Book One
Pamela E. Cash

There are six secret clans across the world–Afr... Read more

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

The Tales of Tim Hurtletuta - New Beginnings

Tales of Tim Hurtletuta Series, Book 1
Matthew James Wilkins

"Tim Hurtletuta has forgotten something. He can... Read more

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

After the Cure

Deirdre Gould

Eight years ago the December Plague swept throu... Read more

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

The Unveiling

Book One (Age of Faith 1)
Tamara Leigh

12th century England: Two men vie for the thron... Read more

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

Healing Her Heart

Crystal Lake Series Book 1
Laura Scott

Dr. Gabe Allen has a rule about dating colleagues... Read more

Cover image for manybooks.net - Reviewed Titles

Never A Choice

The Choices Trilogy #1
Dee Palmer

Bethany Thorne has secrets and she’s told a few... Read more

(Promote your book here)

SUBSCRIBE TO MANYBOOKS 

FREE EBOOKS 

Join 120,000+ fellow readers! Get Free eBooks and book bargains from ManyBooks in your inbox. 

We respect your email privacy