Epitre sur les voyages

Title Epitre sur les voyages
Date 1765
Place Paris and Amiens
Publisher Veuve Duchesne, Durand neveu, Panckoucke (Paris), Veuve Godart (Amiens)
Type Academic prize contest entry
Physical Description 4°, pp. 28.
Language French
Content General discussion of the utility of travel
Methods and itineraries for travels and travellers
Moral considerations of travel
National characters and manners
Praise of travel literature
NotesText in verse.

First famous work of one of the most celebrated poets of 18th-century France, this 'Epitre' won the poetic prize contest 'Le voyage' of the Academy of Marseille in 1764.

The text includes, beyond a very pleasant style, several interesting ideas. It summarizes a number of core Enlightenment ideas such as tolerance; just like abbé Pluche's chapter on travel, it criticizes the French practice of 'dérogation' (interdiction of trade for noblemen). Travel is not for all nations - possibly inspired by Muralt, he suggests that Swiss people should not travel, as they could only learn errors abroad. However, Delille considers travel crucial to the French, at least if they are to avoid 'vegetating in [their] old donjons, and [their] thousand times older prejudices'.

After the publication of Delille's own version, the Académie de Marseille published 'their' version of the text in 'Recueil des pièces couronnées en MDCCLXV par l’Académie des Belles-Lettres de Marseille', Marseille, Antoine Favet, 1765, 5-11 (copy available in the Alcazar library, Marseille). This version is considerably (almost by 50%) shorter than the one published by Delille. But a footnote in the volume indicates that already Delille's original submission went over the desired length (100 to 150 lines), and was accepted only due to its obvious merits.

Master Copy: BNF YE-2496

Digital Copy Web Link
Gallica, reproduction of the BNF copy’.