Atheistic utopian novel, banned upon publication
[Simon Tyssot de Patot]. Voyages et Avantures de Jaques Massé.
Bourdeaux, Chez Jacques l'Aveugle, 1710 [= 1714-1717]. 12mo (16,5 x 9 cm). , 508 pp.
Contemporary calf, red sprinkled edges, marbled endpapers. Corners bumped and damaged, spine rubbed, upper joint damaged, paper slightly browned and occasionally slightly stained.
Second edition, most likely a French pirate edition, of Tyssot de Patot's seminal utopian novel, wich "surpassed practically every other work of philosophical fiction of the age for notoriety" (Israel).
After a shipwreck the protagonist finds himself marooned on a remote shore and, having overcome many hardships, discovers a utopian country, where he is hospitably received. After some time Jacques explains the basic tenets of Christianity, which are, however, met with derision and deemed ludicrous and irrational. After a sojourn of five years, Jacques leaves this utopia.
During his journey back to Europe he meets a young Gascon, "qui était bien le plus hardi Athée ou Déiste, que j'aye vû de mes yeux", as Jacques notes. The Gascon rejects all formal religion and holds that the bible is just a book like any other, much like Adriaan Koerbagh had argued in his Bloemhof in 1668. The novel closes with a fable of the bees, narrated by the Gascon, ridiculing Christianity.
Like other utopian novels "Jacques Massé seeks to persuade readers of the irrationality of European religion, politics, morality, and society by describing in detail an exotic and remote atheistic society, where peace and harmony reign, and virtue is better cultivated than among Europeans" (Israel). It comes as no surprise that the novel was banned upon publication, both in the Dutch Republic as in France.
Roosenberg p. 85 (edition B(i)), pp. 93-94; Israel, Radical Enlightenment, pp. 595-597.