The Faroe Islands visited by the French expedition “La Recherche” in 1839: A presentation and discussion of the Faroese chapter of Xavier Marmier’s official account

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Abstract

The French expedition La Recherche conducted by naval surgeon and naturalist Paul Gaimard (1793-1858) was one of the first major international and interdisciplinary scientific endeavours to explore the European North in the first half of the nineteenth century. Inaccessibility in English may be one of the principal reasons why La Recherche is far from receiving the critical attention it deserves. Xavier Marmier (1808-1892) was the expedition’s official historian and chronicler. The Faroese chapter from his official account in Voyages de la commission scientifique du Nord, en Scandinavie, en Laponie, au Spitzberg et aux Feröe, pendant les années 1838, 1839 et 1840, sur la corvette La Recherche [1842] is printed for the first time in English translation in this issue of Fróðskaparrit. Considering Marmier’s short stay, he writes quite extensively about the Faroes. His descriptions are marked by the Romantic longing for the sublime as well as images of the North as a cold and sparsely populated place. Marmier’s purpose however, did not consist solely of sharing his impressions, but to provide an official account of the voyage including the principal points of interest observed, concerning e.g. geography, economy, trade and popular culture. Marmier is in this context the typical travel writer at the time, representing modernity and progress, noticing lack of developments, suggesting improvements, having better insight and knowing the world better than the people he is visiting, while at the same time not forgetting the actual purpose of his travel, which is to gather information and introduce the reader to an unknown far away region in the world.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-17
Number of pages8
JournalFróðskaparrit - Faroese Scientific Journal
Volume68. bók
Publication statusPublished - 26 Aug 2022

Keywords

  • Travel writing
  • Romanticism
  • Faroe Islands
  • The Arctic
  • Xavier Marmier
  • La Recherche
  • explorations to the North
  • the sublime

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