Title

History through Fiction: The Case of Saint Malo

Subject Area

Special Topics

Abstract

One cannot fully understand the role played by privateers and explorers in French history without taking into account Saint-Malo. Located in the coast of Brittany, region in the West of France, Saint-Malo remains to this day a port-city whose past struggles for autonomy are engraved in paper and stone. Characterized by an abundance of peculiar historical facts from which derived bizarre historical fiction, Saint-Malo’s essence can be as complex as it is interesting. While archive research allowed access to documents and texts in which these unconventional practices were recorded, many novels, songs, plays and stories pertaining to the Malouin oral tradition also verify their authenticity. In this paper, we will deal with the development of Saint Malo’s as a corsair city and investigate this history is depicted in three novels. Ces Messieurs de Saint-Malo, written by Bernard Simiot as part of a trilogy and first published in 1953, recounts the history of family of modest means who climbed the social ladder thanks to the profits of the course. Thomas l’Agnelet (translated as Thomas, the Lambkin), a novel by Claude Farrère published in 1911, is, on its turn and in opposition to Simiot’s text, the story of a corsair Malouin whose courage and bravado conquered love and fame, but whose life ended, as expected, tragically. It reads like an adventure novel whose affiliation with Saint-Malo rests almost entirely on its notoriety as a corsair city and the imagery stereotypically associated with the subject matter, available in every souvenir store around town. The last novel is the recently published All the Light We Cannot See, by the American Anthony Doerr, which takes place partly in Saint Malo during the Second World War.

Brief Bio Note

Lucia Florido, Associate Professor of French at the University of Tennessee Martin, currently devotes her research to the literature of the French Polynesia and to historical fiction dealing with the subject-matter of piracy or privateering.

Keywords

History, Fiction, Saint Malo

Location

Room 211

Presentation Year

2015

Start Date

3-27-2015 3:00 PM

End Date

3-27-2015 4:15 PM

Embargo

5-23-2017

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Mar 27th, 3:00 PM Mar 27th, 4:15 PM

History through Fiction: The Case of Saint Malo

Room 211

One cannot fully understand the role played by privateers and explorers in French history without taking into account Saint-Malo. Located in the coast of Brittany, region in the West of France, Saint-Malo remains to this day a port-city whose past struggles for autonomy are engraved in paper and stone. Characterized by an abundance of peculiar historical facts from which derived bizarre historical fiction, Saint-Malo’s essence can be as complex as it is interesting. While archive research allowed access to documents and texts in which these unconventional practices were recorded, many novels, songs, plays and stories pertaining to the Malouin oral tradition also verify their authenticity. In this paper, we will deal with the development of Saint Malo’s as a corsair city and investigate this history is depicted in three novels. Ces Messieurs de Saint-Malo, written by Bernard Simiot as part of a trilogy and first published in 1953, recounts the history of family of modest means who climbed the social ladder thanks to the profits of the course. Thomas l’Agnelet (translated as Thomas, the Lambkin), a novel by Claude Farrère published in 1911, is, on its turn and in opposition to Simiot’s text, the story of a corsair Malouin whose courage and bravado conquered love and fame, but whose life ended, as expected, tragically. It reads like an adventure novel whose affiliation with Saint-Malo rests almost entirely on its notoriety as a corsair city and the imagery stereotypically associated with the subject matter, available in every souvenir store around town. The last novel is the recently published All the Light We Cannot See, by the American Anthony Doerr, which takes place partly in Saint Malo during the Second World War.