Jean-Henri Maubert de Gouvest (1721-1767) et l'univers des aventuriers des lettres au siècle des Lumières

Abstract : Jean-Henri Maubert de Gouvest, born in Rouen in 1721, was an Enlightenment adventurer. With his tumultuous career, he is fully in line within the polymorphous and variegated family of fortune knights studied by Suzanne Roth and Alexandre Stroev. In fact, by breaking relationships with his family, Maubert entered the Capuchin order at the age of 17 but when he quit the religious habit, he left the convent. Becoming fugitive, he could not return to his family and his peregrinations carried him all over Europe, like Ange Goudar or Casanova. Throughout his travels, our knight of fortune played the role of tutor in Poland, journalist in the United Provinces or spy for France. Different occupations evoked in André Warzée, Jeroom Vercruysse, Pierre Coquelle or Edmond Dziembowski’s works on the press and the Seven Years' War. By developing relationships with some statesmen and many other adventurers over the course of his adventures, Maubert created a real network and thus shaped enough material to write, gradually becoming an “aventurier d’écritoire”. His low income placed him in the category of "Rousseau des ruisseaux", analyzed by Robert Darnton. Living precariously, Maubert succeeded in attracting the good graces of a patron : Cobenzl, a plenipotentiary minister in Brussels with whom he maintained a correspondence. Despite the help of his benefactor, Maubert was forced to produce a literature only to survive, offering his readers an original vision of the eighteenth century filtered through his own experience. Polygraphe, he was interested in education, politics, religion and rewrote some of Voltaire’s works. Nevertheless, his literary career ended fairly quickly. Forced to leave Brussels for Amsterdam where his creditors caught up with him, he was imprisoned for nearly eighteen months during his endless trial. Leaving prison in a deplorable state of health, Maubert died in 1767, in Altona, in troubling circumstances. His literary work, unknown today, is however rich, including about thirty titles and would benefit being rediscovered by the historians. Thus, by analyzing the specificity of Maubert's network, we are interested in establishing whether and in what way, the different members of this group are representative and vectors of Enlightenment ideas. More than a rehabilitation of the literary artwork or of the author, we focus in this work on the study of the relationships and writings of a man who was both a witness and an actor of the Enlightenment.
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Isabelle Meunier-Messika. Jean-Henri Maubert de Gouvest (1721-1767) et l'univers des aventuriers des lettres au siècle des Lumières. Histoire. Université Bourgogne Franche-Comté, 2018. Français. ⟨NNT : 2018UBFCC023⟩. ⟨tel-02191486⟩

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