Charles-Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, premier grand mayaniste de France [Paperback]

Jean-Marie Lebon (Author)

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ISBN: 9781784910983 | Published by: Archaeopress Archaeology | Year of Publication: 2015 | Language: English/French 377p, Illustrated throughout in black & white with 6 colour plates

Charles-Étienne Brasseur de Bourbourg, premier grand mayaniste de France


Two hundred years ago, on September 8, 1814, in the northern French city of Bourbourg, a boy was born into a family of local entrepreneurs connected to the local political or judicial elite. The young Charles-Etienne Brasseur was lucky to spend days and days in the impressive library of Alexandre Nicolas Muchembled, the son of his godmother. The reading of exciting travel books there mapped out the course of his truly adventurous life to come. Although a rebellious schoolboy, he acquired a huge knowledge in many fields by his omnivorous reading of books and journals. He was also a very curious young man, delving into the private libraries of the local grand families, resulting in him contributing many historical articles to newspapers and learned societies. At the age of 24, while still in high school, he published his first novel. This biography is the first to reveal insights into the many facets of the life of Brasseur; the extent of his secret activities for the Vatican; his advanced ideas regarding the dual phonetic and ideographic nature of Mayan writing, as early as 1843-44, and explicitly confirmed by him in May 1852, which he later dramatically rejected in 1870, thus failing to become the Champollion of Mesoamerica; his continuous attempts to preserve documents while crossing territories ravaged by civil wars; the immense value of the manuscripts he saved, like the Tzeltal vocabulary of Copanabastla or the Motul dictionary; his unique dedication in copying old manuscripts, with the help of his nephews, to be sent to other pioneers of Mayan studies in Europe and America; his short-lived pioneering work on the Huave (Wabis); details of his six expeditions to Mesoamerica, often in terrible conditions, as shown by his later severe ill health; his defence of the Indians against the academic community; details of the internal conflicts in the Quebec Catholic Church; and his ideas on certain geophysical events, such as the elevation of ocean beds and islands, which he wrongly dated to the time of the ancient Mayans, or the shifting of the Earth’s rotation axis.

Table of Contents

À Bourbourg
Les débuts d’écrivain de Charles-Étienne Brasseur
De Gênes à l’Amérique du Nord
Le soudain enthousiasme pour la Mésoamérique
Que savait l’Europe de la Mésoamérique dans les années 1840-1850 ?
L’oeuvre “chrétienne” de l’abbé Brasseur
Trois siècles de discrétion espagnole
Le premier voyage en Mésoamérique (juillet 1848 - septembre 1851)
Le mystérieux voyage en Californie
Le retour au Mexique et son fameux coup de publicité
1853 : une année tout en contraste
Le deuxième voyage en Mésoamérique (août 1854 - janvier 1857)
La gloire à Rabinal
La consécration française 150
Le troisième voyage en Mésoamérique (mars 1859 - octobre 1860)
1862 : une nouvelle consécration
Le quatrième voyage en Mésoamérique (janvier 1863 - août 1863)
1864 : l’année Landa de Brasseur
Le cinquième voyage en Mésoamérique
(novembre 1864 - janvier 1866)
La consécration universelle
1868 : les “Quatre lettres” autodestructrices
Le sixième et dernier voyage en Mésoamérique (novembre 1870 - août 1871)
Bourbourg, Madrid, Rome : les adieux
Épilogue : les leçons d’un pionnier
Annexe I : L’américanisme après Brasseur
Annexe II : L’histoire monumentale d’une erreur
Annexe III : Langues de la Mésoamérique rencontrées par Brasseur
Annexe IV : L’abbé Brasseur et sa ville de Bourbourg, sa famille et sa langue

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